S.Korean stem cell scientist faces 2nd hearing

Updated: 2006-07-04 10:22
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The disgraced South Korean scientist who used falsified data to claim a breakthrough in creating stem cells from cloned human embryos was to face a second hearing in his fraud trial Tuesday.

Hwang, who is accused of accepting funds under false pretenses, embezzlement and violating a bioethics law, denied he deliberately falsified data in his first hearing in June and suggested he was deceived by subordinates that they had successfully carried out the breakthrough.

The prestigious Seoul National University, where Hwang used to work, fired him earlier this year after concluding that his claims to have created the world's first stem cells from cloned human embryos were fabricated.

Hwang has acknowledged that inflated data was used for his research claims, published by prestigious international journals in 2004 and 2005 and now deemed false. However, he has maintained that he has the technology to clone embryonic stem cells.

His lawyer, Lee Geon-haeng, said last month that Hwang plans to open a new lab and resume research sometime in July. His prospects were unclear, however, since he is no longer authorized to conduct such research in South Korea.

Hwang was indicted in May for allegedly accepting 2 billion won ($2.12 million; euro1.66 million) in private donations based on the outcome of the falsified research and embezzling about 800 million won ($849,260; euro664,003) in private and government research funds.

Hwang also was accused of buying human eggs for research, a violation of the country's bioethics law.

If convicted, the 52-year-old scientist faces at least three years in prison. Hwang is being tried along with five colleagues who face similar charges.