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Police chief suspended over 'sponsorship fees' scandal
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A police chief was suspended on Tuesday in the second alleged case of police officers illegally soliciting money in just over a month in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

Wei Xiaomin is accused of collecting "sponsorship fees" totaling 2.19 million yuan (322,058 U.S. dollars) from local coal mine bosses.

Wei, former deputy director of the Daliuta Branch of the Shenmu County Public Security Bureau, is also under investigation by the CPC Shenmu County Commission for Discipline Inspection, a meeting of the CPC Shenmu County Committee heard.

He was accused of asking about 60 coal mine bosses to donate "sponsorship fees" to help maintain law and order at a meeting held by the Shenmu County Coal and Coke Association in a hotel on Saturday.

"The police authorities have been short of funding and the situation has worsened with the frequent occurrences of criminal cases in this area. So we had better increase security funding now rather than mobilize a great number of police officers after a crime happens," The Sanqin Daily newspaper quoted Wei as saying on Monday.

"Those who donate money will benefit," he allegedly told mine bosses. "We expect great support from you."

The paper also quoted a coal mine boss Hao Zhichang as saying. "If we want to protect our personal safety and keep our benefits from being infringed upon, we must rely on the police."

Media reports said officials of the Daliuta Branch also attended the meeting, but it was not immediately known what penalties they would face.

The scandal has sparked outcry from the public after being exposed by the local media.

"What the police are taking is actually 'protection' money, which tarnishes their image and will affect justice," said a posting on Sina.com.

The money was being kept by the Shenmu County Coal and Coke Association and would be returned to mine bosses, a senior official of Shenmu County Public Security Bureau who declined to be named told Xinhua on Tuesday.

The latest case follows that of two police station commanders in Shangluo City who were suspended on Oct. 7 for accepting gift money on the occasion of the station's move to a new building in September.

An investigation found the Liuwan station accepted gift money totaling 39,000 yuan (5,571 U.S. dollars) from 11 of the 24 village affairs committees in its jurisdiction.

Police at the station allegedly informed each village committee in advance of the specific sum they should give. The gift money finally received ranged from 2,000 to 5,000 yuan.

(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2008)

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