Police chief held over drunk driving deaths

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A police officer in connection with a road accident that killed five people and injured three others in Central China has been officially charged, local authorities said Yesterday.

The broken police car involved in the deadly road accident.[Photo/Southern Metropolis Daily]

The broken police car involved in the deadly road accident.[Photo/Southern Metropolis Daily]

Wang Yinpeng, head of the police station in Liangzhu Township in Runan County, has been charged with endangering public security by dangerous means.

The accident happened around 2:40pm on Saturday when Wang was driving a police car under the influence of alcohol and suddenly lost control, running into two two utility poles at a crossroad near the county's bus station.

The poles fell on pedestrians and caused the deaths, witnesses said.

Wang was suspected of drunk driving and an investigation by police and prosecutors has been launched, the county's publicity department said.

Yi Shenghua, a Beijing-based lawyer with Ying Ke Law Firm, said Wang could face the death penalty according to the latest criminal law.

The accident also triggered a public outcry on Weibo.com, China's popular Twitter-like microblogging service, after pictures posted on the site showed gruesome scenes in the aftermath of the crash.

In recent years, fatal car accidents in China have fuelled public outcry and calls for stricter penalties.

In a similar case in 2009 in Chengdu, Sichuan province, 30-year-old Sun Weiming, a hit-and-run driver without a license, was sentenced to life for endangering public security after he killed four people and injured one in a drunken-driving accident.

Yet, Wang will face a heavier punishment because he was a police officer, said Yi.

(China Daily contributed to this story)

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