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Court will target energy waste
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More will be done over the next five years to combat crimes involving officials wasting energy and resources, the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) said yesterday.

Prosecutors will investigate job-related crimes that damage resources and the environment, and conduct synchronized investigations with other administrative departments on project-related major accidents, it said.

"Anyone found guilty of corruption or dereliction of duty will be punished," the latest measures released by the SPP for the implementation of its 2008-12 Work Plan to Establish a System to Strength the Punishment and Prevention of Corruption state.

Chen Lianfu, director of the SPP's anti-dereliction of duty department, said endangering energy and resources, and the environment is still a serious problem, despite the country having made good progress over the past 30 years.

In some areas, development projects are planned at the expense of energy and resources, and the environment, and national laws are ignored, he said.

"An important step to reverse this problem is to conduct synchronized investigations with supervision and safety inspection departments, to enable prosecutors to know about them earlier," Chen told China Daily.

"We will not let any cases of dereliction of duty or corruption go unpunished," he said.

The SPP has already sent prosecutors to help investigate the cause of the mudslide in Shanxi province that has so far left at least 128 people dead and hundreds of others trapped, he said.

SPP official Song Hansong said crimes involving damage to energy and resources, and the environment usually require specialist knowledge, which makes them more difficult to investigate.

For example, it is not easy to attribute blame for damage caused to the air, rivers, underground water or the soil, as problems can take years to come to light, he said.

Some cases are never even noticed until they pose a health threat, he said.

"Some small firms work deep in the mountains and discharge harmful pollutants," Song said in a recent interview with China Environment News.

Between 2004 and last year, procuratorates punished 3,822 people for excessive use of energy and resources, and for causing damage to the environment, figures from the SPP show.

On Dec 5 of last year, 105 miners were killed in a gas explosion at the Ruizhiyuan coal mine in Shanxi province. Nineteen people responsible for the mine's management and safety were investigated.

(China Daily September 11, 2008)

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