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Korean stem cell 'fraud' gives emotional testimony

Hwang tells court: 'I admit it'

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Hwang Woo-Suk, the disgraced Korean stem cell scientist, has admitted in court that he fabricated data.

During an emotional testimony in Seoul, he said: "It was clearly my wrongdoing, I admit it." If found guilty of misusing state funds Hwang could face 10 years imprisonment. Bioethics allegations against him carry a three year term.

Asked if he had personally altered data in a landmark 2005 research paper, the former national hero told prosecutors: "I admit to the suspicion of fabrication."

Hwang had conceded fault prior to the trial, but gave his most detailed account of the misconduct in court. He said he had personally manipulated a data sheet given to him by one of his researchers before showing it to an American scientist who was helping in the write-up.

The sacked professor also defended his work, saying that some of the cloned patient-specific stem cell lines the university team claimed to have created deserve further investigation. He said: "We still want to believe the veracity of the stem cell lines, which we hope will be verified by a world-renowned lab, not some incompetent committee from Seoul National University."

An investigatory panel at the university announced it had uncovered Hwang's fabrications in December.

He also repeated claims he was duped by junior team members in several of the larger frauds. He said: "I believed the test results brought to me by researchers that supported the findings in the papers." He went on to deny the separate charge of violating bioethics laws by coercing female staff to donate eggs to his cloning programme.

This was the second day of hearings after the trial began in June. The court will reconvene 25 July. ®

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