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Suspended death penalty upheld for China man over tainted pork scandal

(Xinhua)

16:12, August 11, 2011

ZHENGZHOU, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- A court in central China's Henan Province Wednesday upheld a death sentence with a two-year reprieve for a man after convicting him of "endangering public security using dangerous means" in a tainted pork scandal.

The Henan Provincial Higher People's Court said in a verdict it also upheld sentences for four others ranging from life in prison to nine years in prison for knowingly producing and distributing the dangerous drug clenbuterol for use in pig feed.

If fed to pigs, clenbuterol can make their flesh leaner. The chemical is banned as an additive in stock feed in China and can cause cancer and other various health problems in humans.

In the first-instance trial on July 25, the Jiaozuo Intermediate People's Court sentenced Liu Xiang to death with a two-year reprieve and Xi Zhongjie to life in prison for producing and selling over 2,700 kg of clenbuterol.

Three others, including Liu's wife, were given jail terms ranging from nine to 15 years.

The clenbuterol the five produced or sold was distributed to eight provincial regions, including Henan, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces, the Jiaozuo court found.

Also on Wednesday, the Jiaozuo Intermediate People's Court upheld jail terms ranging from five to six years for three former food safety officials after convicting them of dereliction of duty with regard to the clenbuterol scandal.

The three were found guilty of greenlighting the sale of 38,000 live pigs to other provinces without conducting clenbuterol inspections while serving at an animal epidemic inspection station in the city of Jiaozuo.

In March, China Central Television (CCTV) reported that clenbuterol was detected in pigs purchased by a subsidiary company of Shuanghui Group, China's largest meat processor.

The scandal caused the Henan-based company tremendous losses as immediately following the CCTV report, supermarkets across the country removed its products from their shelves amid online calls by consumers to boycott anything from the company.

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