China to Try 58 Accused of Covering up Mine Deaths

Local reporters and officials are being charged with bribery in a cover-up of a mining disaster in Hebei just before the 2008 Olympics. From AP:

Officials in Hebei province’s Yuxian county paid journalists a total of 2.6 million yuan ($380,000) not to report the July 14, 2008, accident, in which 34 miners and one rescuer were killed, the China Daily said.

In addition to bribing reporters, officials silenced relatives of the dead with large compensation payments and threats of retribution if they talked, the paper said. The measures managed to keep the accident silent for 85 days, the paper said, without saying how it eventually became known.

It’s fairly common for officials to pay such bribes to keep higher ranking leaders from finding out about disasters and to avoid being fired or handed demerits. Often the payments are disguised as advertising buys or subscription fees.

Yuxian officials had even more reason to keep the accident silent because it struck just three weeks before the Beijing Olympic Games in the midst of a national safety campaign, when the central government was bent on painting only the most positive picture of China to the world.

November 30, 2009 12:11 PM
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