China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) and Supreme People's Procuratorate co-issued Wednesday a legal interpretation on penalties for coal mine safety accidents.
"The legal interpretation provides a yardstick for fixing penalties for those who make a fortune out of blood-tainted coal production," said a SPC spokesman. "We hope this will help improve safety conditions in coal mines, and accelerate accident reports," he added.
According to the legal interpretation, coal mine bosses as well as de facto owners will be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 3 years if illegal production leads to accidents killing more than one person, injuring more than three, or causing economic losses of more than one million yuan (US$128,000).
They will face a prison term of up to seven years if casualties exceed three dead, 10 injured, or economic losses are more than three million yuan.
The legal interpretation stipulates that coal mine bosses, de facto owners, and government officials in charge of coal mine management are legally obligated to report mine accidents to authorities in a timely manner.
Mine owners, controllers and government officials will face imprisonment of up to seven years if silence, misreporting, or delayed reports on mine accidents lead to more casualties or economic losses.
Those responsible for the coal mine accident will receive a penalty reduction if evidence shows that they have "actively organized or participated in rescue operations and damage repair after the accident.”
The legal interpretation also reiterates that government officials are strictly prohibited from investing in coal mines, and that people violating the regulation will be "severely dealt with.”
China reported its crude coal output reached 2.325 billion tons in 2006, but 2,945 coal mine accidents occurred killing 4,746 people.
The country has vowed to reduce coal mine accidents by at least a quarter by 2010, according to the 11th Five-year Plan for Coal Mine Production Safety also published on Wednesday.
(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2007)