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Global Times

Chairman of Beijing-based pharmacy jailed for selling fake 3M masks

Global Times

By Chen Shasha and Huang Lanlan Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/21 23:46:34

The chairman of a well-known Beijing-based pharmacy has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 4 million yuan ($578,400) for selling fake 3M masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the court upholding the same verdict as the first trial held in June, Beijing Youth Daily reported Friday.

Along with the chairman, Li Dong, two others were sentenced to 9 years in prison and fined 2.5 million yuan.

The three were accused of selling more than 500,000 fake 3M masks to pharmacies and individuals in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province from January 1 to 26, when masks were badly needed. The sales reached over 4.2 million yuan, according to media reports.

The case first came to trial on Jun 19, when the people's court in Chaoyang district of Beijing ruled that the three committed the crime of selling fake and inferior products.

The masks they sold infringed on the exclusive rights of the registered trademark "3M," the court announced. Appraisal by the inspection agency also showed that the filtration efficiency of the masks failed to meet the requirements of the corresponding national standards.

The court believed the three clearly knew that the masks were in tight supply, and their behavior disturbed the economic order, infringed on the legitimate rights of consumers and impeded control of the epidemic.

The defendants appealed for a second trial, claiming they did not know that the masks involved in the case were fake and inferior products and arguing that the sentence was too heavy.

However, the intermediate court handling the case rejected their appeal on Friday and upheld the original judgment.

Legal experts reached by the Global Times said it was a reasonable punishment considering the bad effects the case caused amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

Selling sub-standard masks in late January, when the public had an urgent need of masks, severely disturbed the market order and threatened people's lives and health, said lawyer Li Qinbin.

"They not only infringed on the legitimate rights of consumers, but also impeded the prevention and control work against the virus," Li told the Global Times on Friday.

The case has caused heated discussion in China's social media, with many saying that the defendants had tried to profit from disaster and hoping the judgement could be a warning to others.

"It is taking lives to sell fake masks during the pandemic, and such behavior deserves a heavy sentence," one netizen commented.

"15 years in prison is a heavy sentence, but I think they should be fined more heavily as a warning to others," another said.

China has been taking a strict attitude toward violations during the pandemic. During the first half of the year, a total of 5,565 people across the country were prosecuted for impeding epidemic control, involving crimes like selling and producing fake or inferior epidemic control materials, hyping up prices of materials and harming medical staff, according to a notice released by the Supreme People's Procuratorate on July 26.

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