'Fire charges could extend to police for wrongdoing'

10:38, January 11, 2010      

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Local police officers may end up facing charges for alleged wrongdoing connected to the deadly blaze that severely damaged the brand new five-billion-yuan CCTV tower last February, local media reported yesterday.

The Beijing News quoted insiders as saying officers implicated in the incident have already been the subject of a closed-door investigation.

Police authorities have not commented on the claim.

The report came just two days after prosecutors from the Beijing No 2 People's Procuratorate said they will file a series of lawsuits against alleged wrongdoers in the scandal.

Charges include causing damage with illegal explosives, producing and selling substandard products and neglect of duty, and were laid against more than 30 officials and workers arrested since last year, prosecutors said.

Xu Wei, a former CCTV senior official and the principal suspect in the blaze, which was thought to have been triggered by an ambitious fireworks display, has been under criminal detention for almost a year. Prosecutors said he may also face corruption charges later in a separate trial.

Local prosecutors returned two reports from police and asked for more information on suspects last November and December.

The ups and downs of the case has led to rumors that some of the top officials from the national television network may be charged with neglect of duty in connection to the incident. But prosecutors told local media the charges so far have targeted people who should have stopped the accident from happening.

The fire on Feb 9 last year destroyed the annex building of the new CCTV tower - a major showpiece by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and German architect Ole Scheeren.

The fire was thought to have been caused by the illegal use of fireworks and flammable building materials and left one firefighter dead.

Crews have begun the reconstruction of the interior and exterior of the building, which has been an eyesore in the central business district in downtown Beijing for many months. Sources with CCTV told METRO that staffers will move into the revamped building next year - two years behind schedule.

Beijing authorities recently issued even tighter rules governing the types of fireworks and firecrackers that can be sold and used in advance of Spring Festival, which falls next month.

Source: China Daily
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