Officials Responsible for Shanghai Fire Sentenced

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Nine months after the Shanghai fire that killed 58 people, prison sentences were handed down to officials convicted of corruption and abuse of power.

The blaze last November burned down a 28-story apartment building. The fire was said to have started after unlicensed welders accidentally set construction materials on fire.

The harshest sentence, a 16 year long term, was given to Gao Weizhong, former director of the Construction and Transport Committee of Shanghai's Jing'an District. According to China Daily, Gao took bribes for allowing companies to renovate the building illegally.

The heads of one of those companies, Shanghai Jiayi Decoration, were sentenced for accepting bribes and knowingly subcontracting work out to unqualified companies.

The sentences were given in front of an audience of over 1,600 people, including media and victims. One onlooker, who lost his mother and wife from the fire, said the verdict was (quote) "unfair."

Twenty-three people were sentenced to jail terms for the fire.

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