Ex-drug chief lodges death sentence appeal

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-13 06:53

Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of the country's drug watchdog who was sentenced to death last month on corruption charges, has launched an appeal, sources close to the case said.

Zheng, 63, the former director of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), last week asked the Beijing High People's Court to reconsider his sentence as the "penalty was too severe", according to sources with the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court.

Zheng wrote in his appeal that he had "confessed his crimes" and "cooperated with the investigating prosecutors", which could merit a lighter sentence under Chinese law.

Zheng also sought to regain the legal part of his income for his family. The first verdict handed down by the Beijing No 1 Intermediate Court, issued on May 29, called for the confiscation of all of Zheng's personal property.

In that verdict, Zheng received the death penalty on the graft charges totaling 6.49 million yuan ($850,000), and seven years in prison for dereliction of duty.

Zheng was the first official of his rank to be sentenced to death since 2000.

The last two figures of Zheng's rank executed for taking bribes, Hu Changqing, vice-governor of the eastern Jiangxi Province, and Cheng Kejie, a vice-head of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, both received more bribes than Zheng did.

Though by law a ruling on an appeal must be made within a month's time, some lawyers have asked whether Zheng might receive leniency.

"The death sentence was a reflection of the central government's strong determination to weed out corruption, especially in areas concerning public safety," said a lawyer surnamed Gao.

The intermediate court has previously described the sentence as "appropriate", given the "huge bribes involved and the great damage inflicted on the country and the public by Zheng's dereliction of duty".

After serving as the top drug authority from 1998 until 2005, Zheng was placed under investigation by the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in December 2006 and was expelled from the Party in March 2007.

As SFDA director, Zheng oversaw the implementation of the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which required companies to obtain a GMP certificate before allowed to register new medicines.

However, the credibility of the system was seriously undermined when six types of medicine approved by the administration during Zheng's tenure proved to be fake. And some pharmaceutical firms used false documents to apply for approvals, the court heard.

(China Daily 06/13/2007 page3)

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