South Korean Court Reduces Hwang's Sentence

Disgraced South Korean scientist Woo Suk Hwang had his conviction upheld yesterday by an appeals court in South Korea, which knocked 6 months off Hwang’s suspended sentence.

The court’s action means Hwang won’t have to serve time in jail if he stays out of trouble for 2 years. He was convicted last year of fraud and embezzlement and received a 2-year sentence, suspended for 3 years. Government prosecutors had asked for a 4-year sentence.

Both Hwang and the prosecution appealed last year’s conviction, and each has 1 week to appeal the latest ruling.

Hwang stunned the scientific world when he claimed in two papers published in Science in 2004 and 2005 that he had cloned human embryos. Those claims unraveled in late 2005 when it became apparent that key images in the papers had been duplicated. Science retracted both papers. Hwang later admitted faking data to make the papers look better but claimed that a colleague duped him into thinking that the cell lines were genuine.

Hwang is reportedly still working on animal cloning at a private research facility outside of Seoul.