Beijing: A Chinese journalist has been
sentenced to 16 years in prison for taking bribes to help
cover up a coal mine disaster just before the Beijing
Olympics, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
More than 50 local officials and journalists also face
charges. Mine officials in the northern province of Hebei are
accused of moving dead bodies, destroying evidence and paying
journalists USD 380,000) not to report on the July 2008
explosion in which 34 miners and a rescue worker were killed,
state-run media have reported. The story was kept quiet for
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. The
payoffs sometimes take the form of blackmail, with reporters
threatening to reveal accidents unless they are paid off. The
payments often are disguised as advertising
buys or subscription fees.
Officials may have had even more reason to keep the
Hebei 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.
Li Junqi is thought to be the first of 10
journalists sentenced in the scandal.