(AFP) – Feb 22, 2010
BEIJING — China will prosecute 23 people for a blaze at its new state television headquarters that engulfed a hotel, killed a fireman and left a 24-million-dollar clean-up bill, a court official said Tuesday.
An official at Beijing Number Two Intermediate Court confirmed 23 people had been charged in the incident, but said the hearings had not yet begun.
"The CCTV case is not on today's schedule -- there is no trial or hearing date," she said.
One year ago, one firefighter died after inhaling toxic fumes while battling the blaze at the Mandarin Oriental's nearly finished flagship hotel inside the CCTV complex, which was sparked by an illegal fireworks display.
Six others were injured in the inferno, which caused about 163 million yuan (24 million dollars) in damages.
In a public relations disaster for CCTV, one of the Communist Party's chief propaganda arms, authorities said the station defied police warnings and set off powerful fireworks in the complex during Lunar New Year celebrations.
The former director of CCTV's new headquarters, Xu Wei, is among those due to be tried, for his role in the staging of the massive fireworks display, the China Daily cited prosecutors as saying.
Six other former CCTV employees and six former construction workers involved in the project are also set to face trial, the newspaper said.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the case when contacted by AFP.
Earlier this month, the official Xinhua news agency reported that a total of 44 suspects would be prosecuted, while 27 others will be disciplined for their roles in the fire.
The 159-metre (524-foot) tall hotel was just 200 metres from the futuristic CCTV tower that had quickly won fame as one of Beijing's most stunning buildings and become a striking symbol of China's new-found global power.
Both buildings were designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and had been due to open this year.
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