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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 March, 2004, 14:39 GMT
Chinese court jails paper staff
By Louisa Lim
BBC correspondent in Beijing

Taxi driver reading Southern Metropolis Newspaper
The paper repeatedly exposed official wrongdoing on issues such as Sars
A Chinese court has sentenced the former general manager of an outspoken newspaper to 12 years in prison for bribery and corruption.

In China's tightly-controlled media market, the Southern Metropolis News was one of the most fearless papers.

The newspaper has repeatedly embarrassed the authorities by exposing official wrongdoing.

Its chief editor has also been arrested, in a move that some fear is designed to rein in the media.

The paper's investigation forced the authorities in the southern city of Guangzhou to admit they had a suspected Sars case in December.

The paper also exposed how a migrant worker had been beaten to death in police custody, a case which sparked nationwide outrage.

Now, the men who decided to print those reports are facing long prison terms.


General manager Yu Huafeng was accused of taking almost $200,000 of the company's money. Prosecutors said he had split $70,000 between nine members of the editorial committee.

Mr Yu said it had been given to them as a bonus.

His lawyer told the BBC he would appeal against the sentence.

A former director of the paper's parent group has also been jailed for 11 years for accepting bribes and the paper's editor, Cheng Yizhong, has been detained on corruption charges.

It is a move that many here are likely to see as payback for the paper's persistent refusal to toe the party line.

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