Monday, May 28, 2007

Death penalty for China official


China has sentenced the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration to death after he was convicted of corruption, state media has reported.

Zheng Xiaoyu was sentenced after being found guilty of taking bribes and dereliction of duty, state Xinhua news agency reported.

Zheng, 62, who was sacked in 2005 after seven years in the job, could have his sentence reduced on appeal.

He was expelled from the Communist Party earlier this year.

Name poisoned

Last month he was accused of accepting more than 5m yuan ($650,000) in bribes to approve hundreds of drugs.

One company, Kongliyuan Group, allegedly paid Zheng bribes in return for approving 277 drugs, mostly antibiotics.

Zheng's former secretary, Cao Wenzhuang, also faced trial accused of accepting bribes.

Thirty-one other people were also alleged to have been involved in the scandal, including Zheng's wife, Liu Naixue, and his son, Zheng Hairong.

The sentence comes amid a food safety scandal that has hit Chinese manufacturers.

Two company managers have been detained, accused of adding melamine to food additives.

US inspectors allege this led to the death of a number of cats and dogs after they ate contaminated pet food.

In February, a drug manufacturer applied to name a range of pesticides and rat poisons after Zheng.

But trademark officials decided that he had a right to protect his name.

Zheng had reportedly ruled against one of Shenyang Feilong Pharmaceutical Company's drugs in 1999 in his role at the Food and Drug Administration.

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