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Trial begins for South Korea cloning scientist

[JURIST] South Korean cloning scientist Hwang Woo-Suk [BBC profile] and five colleagues went on trial Tuesday, with prosecutors calling for harsh punishment and defense lawyers responding that criminal penalties are inappropriate for academic fraud. Prosecutors charged [JURIST report] Hwang in May in the Seoul District Court with fraud, embezzlement and violating bioethics laws for his claims that he had produced stem cell lines by cloning human embryos – a breakthrough that could lead to therapies for Alzheimer's disease and other now-incurable illnesses. A report [summary] by scientists at Seoul National University discredited Hwang's claims, and the journal Science retracted Hwang's articles [statement text] about the research.

Hwang, who is accused of using some 2.8 billion won (2.91 million dollars US) in public money to buy human eggs for his project, has apologized for the false claims but said he was deceived by two subordinates. If convicted, Hwang could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for misusing state funds and up to three years for breaking bioethics laws. Reuters has more. Chosun Ilbo has local coverage.

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