China's procuratorate authorities have prosecuted 3,822 government officials from 2004 to 2007 for dereliction of duty causing damage to the natural environment and wasting energy resources.
"Their misconduct has cost the country billions of yuan in terms of direct economic losses," Wang Zhenchuan, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said in Beijing on Tuesday.
Wang did not offer details as to the specific amount of economic losses, nor how severely the officials were dealt with, but admitted that crooked government officials were the reason why environment related crimes continued to occur.
"A few government officials misused their powers to grant unauthorized changes in land planning and expropriate farmland, forests, or grassland for other uses, causing severe loss of land resources," Wang said.
"In the meantime, some other officials neglected their duties, and turned their backs on serious pollution of the natural environment, even protecting those guilty of damaging the environment and energy resources," he said.
Wang said prosecutors would start a campaign from May this year to November 2009 to crack down on environmental damage and energy resource waste caused by official dereliction of duty.
"We hope the campaign will serve to protect the environment and warn all government officials to abide by the law while bringing the corrupt to justice," Wang said.
A work report delivered by Chinese procurator-general Jia Chunwang in March said prosecutors investigated more than 209,000 officials from 2002 to 2007, down 13.2 percent from the previous five years, in almost 180,000 cases of embezzlement, bribery, dereliction of duty and rights violation, down 9.9 percent. But the number of convicted rose 30.7 percent to almost 117,000.
(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2008)