05/09/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Buddhists to offer more than 60 million dollars to former cloning pioneer

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Three South Korean Buddhists have offered more than 60 million dollars to Hwang Woo-suk, the former "cloning pioneer", who turned out to be a fraud. The three anonymous would-be donors raised some 60 billion won (US$ 64. million) to enable Mr Hwang to open a lab and restart his research.

The offer has come at a time when a court is ready to release the findings of a government inquiry into the researcher's scientific fraud and use of funds.

Hwang's lawyer thanked the Buddhist clerics but said he did not know whether his client would accept.

Hwang, a former Catholic, became a Buddhist saying that this religion was "less inquisitorial" vis-à-vis embryo research. According to his sect, embryos do not constitute human life in the first 14 days of life.

The former therapeutic cloning hero was disgraced after it was determined that he fabricated scientific findings such as extracting linear DNA from stem cells taken from cloned embryos and creating 11 human embryonic stem cells.

As a result of his fraudulent work, he has been stripped of his university and scientific titles.

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