Trial over CCTV tower fire opens in China: court | world | Hindustan Times
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Trial over CCTV tower fire opens in China: court

The trial of 21 people suspected of causing a blaze at China's new state television complex that engulfed a hotel, killed a fireman and left a 24-million-dollar clean-up bill, opened on Tuesday.

world Updated: Mar 23, 2010 16:43 IST

The trial of 21 people suspected of causing a blaze at China's new state television complex that engulfed a hotel, killed a fireman and left a 24-million-dollar clean-up bill, opened on Tuesday.

The former director of the new headquarters of China Central Television, Xu Wei, was among those standing trial for staging a massive fireworks display that went awry in February 2009, the court said in a statement.

The three-day trial was being held at the Beijing Number Two Intermediate Court, the statement said.

"Xu Wei and the other 20 defendants ignored state law, separately violated management regulations on explosive items and started a massive incident," it said.

"As the consequences are especially serious and the social impact odious, they must face criminal responsibility for committing crimes involving dangerous materials."

One firefighter died after inhaling toxic fumes while battling the blaze at the CCTV complex that housed the Mandarin Oriental's nearly finished flagship hotel.

Six others were injured in the inferno that occurred during the 2009 Lunar New Year celebrations and caused about 163 million yuan (24 million dollars) in damages, state media reported.

The inferno has been a public relations disaster for CCTV, a top propaganda arm of China's ruling Communist Party.

A government probe found that 71 people were responsible for the fire and that 44 of them would face criminal charges, the Xinhua news agency reported. It was unclear when the other trials would take place.

The 159-metre (524-foot) tall hotel was next to 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.