Tuesday, July 10, 2007

News Mash Up: Crime & Punishment

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A quarter-million dollar fine that Lewis “Scooter” Libby paid Thursday was the most substantial element remaining from his conviction in March on federal charges that included perjury and obstruction of justice.
President Bush on Monday commuted Libby’s 30-month sentence, and in light of that, the trial judge says he does not know whether Libby must still serve supervised probation. In addition, Libby had been ordered to serve 400 hours of community service, not yet specified, and the status of that also is unclear.
Bush declined to set aside the $250,000 fine imposed by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who had been adamant that Libby serve time for lying to investigators looking into the possible leak of classified material dating back to 2003.
A court document filed Thursday shows Libby obtained a cashier’s check Monday, the same day as Bush’s decision to keep him out of prison. The check, drawn on a bank near Libby’s home in McLean, Va., includes the quarter-million dollar fine and the court’s special assessment of $400.
The court’s receipt is dated Thursday, and includes a photocopy of the check filed in the public record of the case.
Walton has asked Libby’s defense team and prosecutors to file documents by July 9 with their positions on how he should handle the probation matter. In his order, he wrote that the clemency law Bush used in commuting Libby’s sentence does not address how to establish post-confinement probation for someone who hasn’t been behind bars.
– CNN Producer Paul Courson
BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- China executed a former drug and food safety chief on Tuesday for corruption in an unusually swift sentence which will serve as a warning amid a series of health scandals that have stained the "made in China" brand.
The Supreme People's Court approved the death sentence against Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, who was convicted of taking bribes worth some 6.5 million yuan ($850,000) from eight companies and dereliction of duty, Xinhua news agency said.
His execution marked the first time China has imposed a death sentence on an official of his rank since 2000.
"Zheng Xiaoyu's grave irresponsibility in pharmaceutical safety inspection and failure to conscientiously carry out his duties seriously damaged the interests of the state and people," Xinhua cited the high court as stating.
"The social impact has been utterly malign," the court said, adding that Zheng's confession and handing over of bribes were not enough to justify mercy. A spokeswoman for the State Food and Drug Administration, said the case had brought only shame to the watchdog. "This kind of serious case of law breaking by a small minority of corrupt elements, as far as the entire system is concerned, really made us feel ashamed," she said.
"But these cases revealed several problems, and I think we need to seriously reflect on what lessons we can draw."
Zheng, head of administration from 1998 to 2005, was sentenced on May 29 and his appeal was heard last month.
Under rules introduced at the start of this year, the supreme court also reviews and can quash death sentences, a power previously in the hands of provincial-level high courts. But this time the supreme court spent little time endorsing the execution.
The unusually harsh sentence and its prompt enforcement reflect the pressure on Beijing from domestic and international alarm about consumer safety after a series of breaches and deaths involving toxins in food, medicines and other products.
Yan admitted China faced a huge safety problem.
"As a developing country, China's food and drug supervision work began late and its foundations are weak. Therefore, the food and drug safety situation is not something we can be optimistic about," she said.
"We must ensure that those who have power fulfil their duties and responsibilities, and if anyone abuses their power they will be punished," Yan added. "Officials in key departments will change posts on a rotating basis."


Two cases of corrupt government officials lying to the public, profiting from backroom deals, and covering up their activities. Apparently as many as 20 people died from bad antibiotics approved by Zheng. How many people have died in Iraq as a result of the lies the Bush Administration told us and that Mr. Libby tried to cover up? A lot more than 20.
Should Zheng have been executed for his miss use of public office? Probably not. But should Libby be rewarded with a Get Out of Jail Free card and a fine? You tell me.

Credit: News Photos of Zheng being sentenced, Libby's fine, and Libby celebrating his freedom with his wife. Corporal Punishment courtesy of the Chinese Government. Mafia tactics to avoid justice courtesy of the Bush Administration. Sense of grim irony by Me.

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