CHINA> Regional
Seven officials charged in nightclub fire case
By Chen Hong (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-27 07:10

SHENZHEN: Three police officers and four other government employees have been charged with taking bribes and dereliction of duty in a nightclub fire case in which 44 people were killed on Sept 20.

Prosecutors Wednesday said investigators found that Chen Xuming, deputy police chief of Shenzhen's Longgang district, had taken 60,000 yuan ($8,759) in bribe from Wang Jing, one of the nightclub's owners.

Earlier media reports said Chen had stashed 10 million yuan in cash at home and that his total assets amounted to about 100 million yuan.

The media in Hong Kong, which borders Shenzhen, said Chen also held shares in the nightclub. Taking advantage of that, gangsters ran prostitution and drug rackets there.

Tang Tailai, spokesman for Shenzhen people's procuratorate, however, said media claims about Chen's money and property were "groundless".

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But, he said at a press briefing, it was because of Chen that the nightclub had been operating without a license and ignoring the prostitution and drug rackets.

Investigators also found Yang Zhouwu, chief of Tongle police station, had taken 300,000 yuan in bribe from Wang. The police station is in charge of public security in the area where the nightclub was.

"He knew full well about the nightclub's illegal operation and the shadowy deals being run there," Tang said.

The third police officer was posted at Tongle police station, too. The others charged in the case are the chief of the fire brigade of Longgang public security bureau, an official of the community law enforcement team, the chief inspector of the local cultural market, and an official of the local community office.

Twenty-six suspects have been arrested in the case. And the local government has paid 250,000 yuan as compensation to the family of each of the 44 victims.