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95 Officials Punished in Slave-labor Scandal
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Party leaders in Hongtong County, where police rescued 31 slave workers from a brick kiln last month, were among 95 low-level officials punished, a Shanxi Province disciplinary official said at a news conference today.

However, city and provincial-level officials have only been ordered to make self-criticisms as they are not directly in charge of grassroots-level governance, said Yang Senlin, vice director of the CPC Shanxi Discipline Inspection Commission.

The 95 officials failed to supervise or stop kiln owners from using slave laborers, and some officials were even involved in the operation of brick kilns, Yang said.

The disciplinary department found "no corruption involved in the scandal" during its one-month investigation, Yang said. Yang did not elaborate on the lack of corruption findings.

The Communist Party of China in Shanxi Province fired Sun Yanlin, vice Party chief and governor of Hongtong, from his Party position and suggested removing him from his governor position, Yang said.

The CPC issued a serious warning -- a penalty expected to handicap future promotions -- to Gao Hongyuan, Party chief of Hongtong, Yang said.

Among 37 Party officials punished over the scandal, three were expelled from the Communist Party of China and 28 received a serious warning, Yang said. Twenty-four government officials were fired from their positions and 19 were demoted, Yang added.

Law-enforcement departments may additionally charge eight Party officials and government officials, Yang said.

The use of slave laborers hit the headlines after more than 400 parents in central China's Henan Province wrote a call-for-help letter and posted it on the Internet last month, saying their missing children had been sold as forced laborers to small brick kilns in Shanxi and Henan.

A total of 359 people, including 12 children, had been rescued from illegal kilns in Shanxi by June 22 and police had arrested 38 people.

Police in Henan rescued 217 people, including 29 children, and arrested 120.

(Shanghai Daily July 16, 2007)

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