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Repentant Student Apologizes for Thallium Poisoning
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The student who poisoned three classmates with toxic thallium nitrate expressed his deep regrets for the crime and profusely apologized to his victims, Xuzhou police said yesterday.

Chang, a student at the China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT), in Xuzhou City of Jiangsu Province, was arrested on June 12. He soon confessed to having carried out the premeditated poisoning. At first, he planned to use mercury but veered towards thallium after hearing of a girl poisoned by the compound at Tsinghua University with no culprit found after 12 years. He decided to use thallium instead of mercury since "people know little about this substance," Xuzhou police said citing Chang's confession.

He purchased 250 grams of thallium nitrate online from a chemical plant in southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 22, costing 2 yuan per gram. He then laced the drinking cups of three classmates with around 2ml of thallium.

The three students, one in a hospital in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province, and another two in Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, are all reported to be in stable condition. The Beijing Morning Post revealed that the two students in Beijing received acupuncture treatment yesterday, to help their body functions to recover.

Zhu Dunru, a professor from Chemical Technology College of Nanjing University of Technology, sought to blame venal businesses, saying that "although thallium is a strictly-regulated dangerous chemical, some enterprises may ignore the law when pursing economic interests," the report said.

Zhang Zanning, director of the Southeast University's Institute of Law of Sanitation, pointed the finger at the slack supervision of dangerous chemicals in related enterprises, angrily denouncing them as seeing "laws and regulations are all empty lines to them. If a single department had done its duty, the suspect would not have been able to get hold of the poison."

Xuzhou police reported that an investigation team is currently in Sichuan to uncover details of the thallium sale to Chang.

The revised Safety Administration Regulations for Hazardous Chemicals passed in 1992 laid out the rules for the production, marketing, storage, transportation of highly toxic substances. Furthermore, they stipulate the legal obligations of the departments of public security, industry and commerce, rail and mail service.

The CUMT campus has slowly come back to normal now, the closed canteen the only testament to the tragedy that happened there. A university publicity official remarked that the canteen was closed for further health tests.

Reactions from the students spoke of shock and surprise. "He was introverted and not talkative, he seemed to have little to do with his classmates," according to a freshman from Xuhai College, where Chang studies.

A publicity official of the university commented that "the student went unnoticed among thousands of his peers."

Chen Jianguo, associate chief physician at the Nanjing Brain Hospital's department of medical psychology, studied Chang's behavior and declared it to be rooted in an illness, not some kind of mental barrier. He analyzed that Chang's mental state gave him poor social skills and paranoia, thinking that others were intentionally isolating him. This kind of prolonged behavior could eventually lead to loneliness and to violent reactions.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Zhang Yunxing, June 22, 2007)

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