CCTV building fire trials underway

13:30, February 23, 2010      

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A Beijing court began hearing the first trials yesterday involving alleged wrongdoers connected to the massive blaze that damaged the multi-billion-yuan China Central Television (CCTV) high-rise one year ago.

Beijing No 2 Intermediate Court said yesterday it had received a case filed by local prosecutors against 23 suspects charged with causing accidents with dangerous materials.

Among them is Xu Wei, former director of the national TV network's new headquarters, who prosecutors said decided to store illegal fireworks and hold the grand display on the building during Spring Festival last year.

The move backfired and the fireworks ended up severely damaging the 30-story annex tower.

Those charged include six other former CCTV employees and six former employees from the project's construction company.

Prosecutors said the suspects organized the illegal firework display, something that was not permitted on the 5-billion-yuan project site.

The case is the first of what is likely to be a series of cases targeting personnel thought to be responsible for the fire, which caused the death of one firefighter and injured six others on Feb 9 last year.

Constructors who used flammable building materials for the project and government officials who failed to prevent the CCTV staff from letting off the illegal fireworks are also expected to face trials in the coming days.

Mu Ping, chief procuratorate with the Beijing People's Procuratorate, told reporters last month that government officials from the local construction and work safety supervision committees will be charged with neglecting their duties.

The State Council, the nation's cabinet, said in a special investigation report that 44 alleged wrongdoers, including government officials, will be prosecuted for various alleged offences connected to the fire, which caused around 163 million yuan in damage.

CCTV's former director, Zhao Huayong, received an administration demotion after the incident along with other officials and the national TV network was fined 3 million yuan, investigators from the cabinet said.

In another development yesterday, a subcontractor involved in the building of the CCTV tower was ordered to pay about 1.21 million yuan to one of its suppliers, the Chaoyang district court said.

The subcontractor responsible for fitting waterproof boards is based in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, and had bought materials worth about 3.69 million yuan from a supplier in Shanghai.

However, after the fire, the project was halted and the Zhongshan company stopped paying the supplier.

The court ruled the Zhongshan company must pay the remaining material costs to its supplier.

Source: China Daily (by Cui Xiaohuo )
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