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Stem cell 'fraud' scientist faces jail time

Korean genetics debacle heads for court

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Hwang Woo-Suk, the disgraced South Korean stem cell scientist is to face criminal embezzlement and ethics charges, prosecutors have announced.

Government officials said in February that it was unclear how he had spent $2.6m, of the $33m in government funding, and $6.4m in private donations he received, AP reports.

Detailing the indictments, prosecutor Lee In-Kyu told reporters in Seoul today: "Hwang instructed his research team to fabricate an array of data, including photos, the number of stem cells created and DNA test results. [He] used part of the money for personal purposes, and gave some to politicians and business people who supported his research."

Misuse of state funds carries a jail term of up to 10 years. Violations of the bioethics laws can bring a further three years.

The Korea Times reports prosecutors also said Hwang masterminded the fabrications, but he was deceived by research team member Kim Sun-Jong on the existence of cloned patient-specific stem cells. They charge that Kim smuggled in-vitro fertilised stem cells into Hwang’s lab, lying to his superior that he successfully created tailored embryonic stem cell lines.

Four further co-authors of the discredited work are to face charges. No trial date had been set, according to Reuters. ®

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