A court in southern China Monday sentenced over 20 people in connection with a series of deaths at a care center, where 21 people including a 15-year-old autistic boy perished under squalid conditions in 2016.
The director of the center, Li Cuiqiong, was given a suspended death sentence with a two-year reprieve, while another official who worked closely with Li was given a life sentence, state-run Xinhua news agency reported
The two men, who worked for the civil affairs department in Xinfeng County had “used their power to set up and illegally operate the care center,” Xinhua said.
Supervisory authorities in Guangdong have also taken “disciplinary action” against 107 civil servants for their role in the scandal, Xinhua said, without offering details.
An expose in March 2017 by state-run Beijing News found that poor conditions at Lianxi care agency for the homeless, elderly and mentally ill in Shaoguan, Guangdong province had led to the deaths within a span of a few months.
Accounts of crowded, unsanitary conditions at the facility triggered widespread outrage in China, with people pouring scorn on the government’s treatment of vulnerable members of society.
“Was it murder? Did the [center] pocket government subsidies instead of spending money on the patients?” a commenter on the Twitter-like Weibo asked at the time.
Lei Wenfeng, the autistic teenager, who had wandered away from home and got lost, died in December 2016 after staying at the center for just over a month.
The centre was privately run, but financed by the local government, according to the state-run China Daily.