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January 28, 2011

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Shanghai's reputation 'tarnished' by robbers

A GANG who duped out-of-town travelers into taking unlicensed vehicles and then robbed and abandoned them have tarnished Shanghai's reputation, prosecutors said yesterday.

Offering low prices, the seven-strong crew are alleged to have persuaded 12 travellers arriving at Shanghai Railway Station to travel in their vehicles.

The gang, who went on trial yesterday, are alleged to have taken with violence cash and items worth 300,000 yuan (US$45,524) between November 2009 and June 2010.

Judges of the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court said the gang had badly damaged the city's reputation by targeting out-of-town people. They warned travelers not to trust unlicensed transporters during the transport peak before the Spring Festival.

The gang, led by Sun Zhaoman, a 34-year-old Anhui native, had a clear division of labor. Zhang Aiqing, 44, and Xie Yinghua, 33, both from Anhui Province, were in charge of enticing travelers arriving on the shuttle bus from Pudong International Airport at Shanghai Railway Station and who planned to transfer to long-distance buses, prosecutors said.

Once a victim was found, gang members Gao Hongbing or Jiang Tao would arrive in a vehicle to pick them up, prosecutors alleged. When on the road, the gang would raise the fare, and if the victim refused, they would beat them or threaten to inject them with poison, prosecutors said.

After robbing victims, the gang would dump them in remote areas, the court heard.

Sun denied taking part in the robberies. If found guilty, gang members face a sentence ranging from 10 years in prison to the death penalty.

The court didn't hand down a verdict yesterday.


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