Tue, Jul 17, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Beijing announces lenient slave labor punishments


China announced yesterday that 95 Chinese Communist Party officials had been punished, mostly just with warnings, for involvement in a shocking slave labor scandal.

China has punished dozens of officials for allowing slave-like exploitation of workers and children in brick kilns, but announced criminal investigations against only six.

Reports that hundreds of farmers, teenagers and some children had been forced or lured to work in kilns and mines in Shanxi Province sparked nationwide outrage last month.

They endured prison-like confinement and brutal beatings, local media reported. TV news showed released workers with emaciated bodies and festering wounds, and China's leaders promised to punish those involved.

Shanxi authorities yesterday announced the results of their own investigation.

The focus was on low-ranking officials who received mild punishments, and investigators said they had not found evidence of corruption or collusion.

Almost all of the 95 punished were from eight counties in the Shanxi cities of Linfen and Yuncheng. They were sacked, demoted, expelled from the party or merely received warnings, Xinhua news agency said.

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