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SKorea's top court upholds suspended prison term on disgraced cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk

SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's top court on Thursday upheld a suspended prison term on disgraced cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk on criminal charges related to faked research.

A lower court in 2010 sentenced Hwang to 18 months in prison for embezzling research funds and illegally buying human eggs. But the court suspended the penalty.

The Supreme Court said in a statement that it made that ruling final on Thursday. He will stay free unless he breaks laws in the next two years.

Hwang scandalized the international scientific community in 2005 when his breakthrough human cloning research involving embryonic stem cells was found to have been faked. Hwang later admitted the data was faked but claimed he had been deceived by a fellow researcher.

Hwang and his former colleagues created the world's first cloned dog, Snuppy, in 2005, and that achievement was independently confirmed.

After being stripped of the rights to conduct stem cell research due to the scandal, Hwang has been focusing on cloning dogs, coyotes and other animals.

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