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Trial begins over fatal rail crash in Shandong

SIX people stood trial yesterday at a special court of east China's Shandong Province for their part in a fatal train collision that killed 72 passengers in April last year.

Qingdao railway transportation prosecutors brought public charges against the six railway workers at a Jinan railway transportation court.

Local prosecutors did not reveal how long the trial will last, but a legal expert in Beijing said it would take between one month and six weeks.

The defendants are Guo Jiguang, former deputy head of Jinan Railway Bureau, Li Zhenjiang, Cui Heguang, Zhang Fasheng, Pu Xiaojun and Zheng Richeng. Two of the defendants were train dispatchers and the other three were two station officials and a train driver.

The six, detained in May last year, were charged with affecting the safety of a railway's operation.

Penalties for negligence leading to death, serious injuries and losses of public or private property carry jail terms of three to seven years.

T195, a high-speed train from Beijing to the coastal city of Qingdao, derailed and crashed into another train in Zibo's Zhoucun District on April 28, 2008, leaving 72 dead and 416 injured.

The accident was the worst train accident in China for a decade. Investigators said the T195 was traveling at a speed much higher than the speed limit on that section of the track, partly because the driver had not been informed of the speed limit.

The date for sentencing is currently unknown.


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