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Chinese former drug safety official sentenced to death for corruption

[JURIST] The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on Friday convicted former Pharmaceutical Registration Department Director Cao Wenzhuan of corruption and dereliction of duty [JURIST report] for receiving approximately $316,000 in bribes from two pharmaceutical companies in exchange for certifying substandard drugs at the State Food and Drug Administration [official website, in Chinese]. The court sentenced Cao to death on both counts, stripped him of all political rights, and confiscated all of his personal property. The court said the harsh sentence was warranted given Cao's high stature, the enormous bribes involved, and Cao's refusal to confess or return the bribes received. The court did grant Cao a two-year reprieve for his execution, finding that he had provided information that aided in the investigation of other corruption cases.

On Thursday, the same court convicted four other government officials involved in the drug approval process of corruption, issuing sentences ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment. Zheng Xiaoyu, former commissioner of the State Food and Drug Administration, was sentenced to death [JURIST report] in May for receiving $832,000 in bribes and allowing eight companies to bypass the drug approval process. One improperly approved antibiotic is suspected of killing at least 10 people. Zheng, who served as the food and drug commissioner from 1998 to 2005, has appealed his death sentence on the grounds that he should receive leniency because he cooperated with the investigation and has confessed his crimes. Death sentences in China require the approval [JURIST report] of the Supreme People's Court [official website]. AP has more. Xinhua has local coverage.

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