China Sentences 31 More in Kiln Scandal

( [email protected] ) Aug 03, 2007 04:00 AM EDT

China state media reported that courts in northern China sentenced an additional 31 people, including a police officer, to prison terms of up to five years for crimes relating to the use of slave labor in brick kilns.

27 people comprised of brickyard managers and foremen were convicted of beating workers and using child labor, reported the state-owned Xinhua News Agency.

The other convicts were officials from the local industrial and commercial department, including a policeman alongside a labor and society-security employee.

The sandal came to light in June after an exposé revealed that children as young as 8 were abducted or lured from bus and train stations with false promises of well-paying jobs, before being sold to kilns for about 500 yuan (US$65).

The slaves were locked inside run-down buildings where they were forced to endure near around-the-clock work, beatings, malnourishment and lack of basic medical care

A group of 400 fathers had posted a letter online pleading for help in finding their missing sons, whom they believed were sold to kiln bosses.

Nearly 1,000 workers were later freed in subsequent police raids on the kilns.

The case attracted general public outcry including from the head of the Amity Foundation, a domestic-Chinese aid organization, who emphasized that the kiln scandal would raise public awareness and involvement in addressing China’s other social problems.

In a previous court-case last month, the foreman of a brick kiln was sentenced to life in jail and his subordinate was handed the death-penalty for beating a laborer to death.

Dozens of low-level officials have since then been punished for allowing brick kilns to operate using slave labor, though higher-ranking officials were later exonerated.