Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - Page 5 News List

China TV official pleads guilty to fireworks blaze

AP , BEIJING

The former head of Chinese state television’s construction bureau was among defendants pleading guilty to their roles in an illegal fireworks display last year that triggered a deadly inferno at the network’s Beijing compound, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Xu Wei (徐威) and 20 others on trial face up to seven years in prison on charges of causing an accident with dangerous goods. Xu and fireworks company head Liu Faguo (劉發國) were among those who pleaded guilty, though the Beijing News did not specify how many others did so on Tuesday at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court.

Earlier reports alleged that Xu had ignored safety warnings and ordered that the powerful pyrotechnics be used for the China Central Television (CCTV)-funded Lunar New Year fireworks show.

Gao Zicheng (高子程), Xu’s lawyer, refused to answer questions when reached by phone yesterday at his office.

Wang Shirong (王世榮), deputy head of the CCTV construction bureau, pleaded not guilty, the Beijing News said. Wang said he was not involved with planning the fireworks display on Feb. 9 last year and only lit the fuse for the pyrotechnics after Xu handed him a flame, the report said.

The massive fire at the futuristic CCTV complex killed one firefighter and injured eight others. The 159m Mandarin Oriental hotel on the site was gutted and its frame still stands charred and abandoned.

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