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Disgraced cloning researcher convicted in South Korea

Hwang Woo-suk answers questions from reporters after his trial on Monday.
Hwang Woo-suk answers questions from reporters after his trial on Monday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hwang claim in 2004 to have cloned human embryonic stem cells
  • In 2006, the scientist admitted faking his findings
  • He get two-year prison sentence, Yonhap reports
  • Reports of his studies had attracted worldwide attention
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Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- A disgraced South Korean scientist -- who gained fame in 2004 when he claimed to have cloned human embryonic stem cells -- on Monday was convicted of embezzling money and illegally buying human eggs, state media reported.

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Hwang Woo-suk, 56, to a two-year prison term, suspended for three years, the Yonhap news agency reported.

The scientist in 2006 admitted faking his findings, after questions of impropriety had emerged.

Reports of his studies had attracted worldwide attention and enthusiasm from researchers and patients excited about their potential for treating diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

In 2006, prosecutors said Hwang masterminded the process of creating false studies on stem-cell technology. They also backed up his assertion that assistant researcher Kim Sun-jong deceived him with fake data that became part of the research.

Prosecutors said Kim smuggled in-vitro fertilized stem cells into Hwang's lab to make it look as though the scientist was successful in creating stem cells through cloning.

Hwang was charged with accepting 2 billion won ($2.1 million at the time of charges) in private donations based on falsified research, prosecutors said. They also accused him of embezzling about 800 million won ($856,000 at the time of charges) in private and government research funds.

Hwang apologized publicly in January 2006 after a panel of scientists from Seoul National University found he had not derived human stem cells from eggs, as he claimed.

"It is true that the research papers had fabricated data, and I will take full responsibility. I acknowledge this and apologize," he said at the time.

He acknowledged that much of the data and photographs published in the U.S.-based journal Science in 2004 and 2005 had been fabricated. The university panel's report said Hwang did produce the world's first cloned dog, Snuppy.

 
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