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September 23, 2009

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'TV show' kidnappers jailed

FOUR kidnappers were yesterday sentenced to long jail terms for abducting a wealthy businessman and receiving a 5.8-million-yuan (US$849,520) ransom for his release.

Wu Yinqi, deputy director of the Jinshan District Prosecutors' Office, said it was a carefully plotted crime. The victim was held for seven days and "suffered severe mental anguish."

Liu Penghe, a 27-year-old Henan Province native who headed the gang, was jailed for 14 1/2 years.

He said he bore all responsibility and pleaded with Jinshan District People's Court to hand out lenient sentences to his accomplices. They were all imprisoned for 10 years.

Liu said he got the idea from a television show about a man who took a hostage for ransom when he couldn't earn money after coming to Shanghai from his hometown.

Last October, Liu told three men from his home village - Liu Lianhui, Liu Shengjie and Wu Zhongjiang - to follow expensive cars on the road in preparation for an abduction.

"I thought I would be in disgrace if I went back to my hometown without earning a lot of money ... I didn't know kidnapping was a serious crime," Liu Penghe said.

They targeted a victim surnamed Zhang, a real estate company boss who drove a BMW, and found his home address by following the car.

The men bought knives, chains, a blindfold, a telescope, an MP3 player, adhesive tape and two toy guns.

Liu Penghe rented a house in Zhejiang Province to keep the hostage.

On the night of November 25, 2008, the gang waited in the residential community where Zhang lived.

When Zhang arrived, they forced him into their car with the toy guns, then drove him to the rented house.

"In the car the gang bound Zhang's hands with the iron chains, covered his eyes and mouth, pushed toy guns against his waist and put the earphones of the MP3 player into his ears so he could not hear them speak," prosecutors told the court.

Zhang agreed to pay a 5-million-yuan ransom and called a friend. The friend misheard and agreed to pay 5.8 million yuan.

"We had discussed releasing him if he refused to pay but we didn't expect to receive such a large sum of money," Liu Penghe said.

The victim's family collected the money and delivered the ransom in two lots. When the ransom money was dropped, Liu Penghe hid and observed proceedings from a distance with the telescope.

After being held for seven days, Zhang was released on December 2 and immediately contacted police.

Officers quickly caught the four men, who had returned to their hometown to "celebrate their success."

About 5 million yuan has been returned to the victim.

Liu said he bought a BMW car, gold jewelry and other expensive items with his share.


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