Seventeen jailed for China nightclub fire that killed 44

21:13, March 31, 2010      

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Seventeen people were jailed Wednesday for terms up to 15 and a half years for their roles in a south China nightclub fire that killed 44 and injured 64.

The fire broke out at the King of Dancers nightclub on Sept. 20, 2008, when more than 300 people were watching a performance and fireworks ignited flammable materials in the ceiling.

The nightclub, in Longgang District of Shenzhen city, had opened for business in September 2007 and had no business permit, a police investigation showed.

At the Longgang District People's Court, Wang Jing, chairman of the nightclub company, and Zhang Wei, its owner, were sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison each for illegally operating a business and negligence leading to a serious accident, said a statement from the court.

The court also ordered the confiscation of 4.5 million yuan (659,168 U.S. dollars) of Wang's personal assets and 2.5 million yuan of Zhang's assets.

Lu Jinghuang, the nightclub's general manager, was jailed three years and fined 20,000 yuan.

The other 14 defendants, all managers of the nightclub company, received jail terms ranging from one year and seven months to six years in the first instance trial. They were all charged with illegally operating a business.

All the defendants pleaded guilty to the charges, said the statement.

In March last year, six police and local officials were given jail terms from one to 13 years for taking bribes and dereliction of duty in regard to the fatal fire.

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