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7 men in court for killing gambler over debts

SEVEN suspects who illegally held a gambling debtor in detention and beat him to death were tried by the Xuhui District People's Court yesterday.

Guo Zhenggang, the main suspect, owned an underground casino in a residential complex in Xuhui District. He hired five other suspects to collect debts from gamblers. The sixth is a mutual friend of the victim and the gang, the court heard.

On March 19 last year, Guo asked two of his men to seek 30,000 yuan (US$4,821) owed by the victim, Cai Zhongyu, a Shanghai man. Since Cai could only pay 1,700 yuan, the two hit men brought Cai to Guo.

Guo told the court that he decided to threaten Cai and called three more hit men to take Cai to a house in suburban Pudong District where they planned to continue to extort money from him.

After Guo left, the five hit men put Cai into an SUV. The sixth suspect, Wang Renjie, also arrived, saying he was there to persuade Cai to pay debts, prosecutors said.

However, Cai had a body conflict with Wang's girlfriend in the car. The hit men pulled Cai out of the car and started punching and kicking him on the ground.

Prosecutors said the six beat Cai violently and put him back into the car. On their way to Pudong, one suspect found Cai was short of breath so they drove Cai back to the casino.

Cai was announced dead after an ambulance arrived, the court heard.

The hit men said they worked for Guo and earned 1,000 yuan a week. They admitted hitting Cai in the head and slapping him in the face during the fight.

According to China's Criminal Law, those who illegally detain people and cause their deaths would be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison. The court didn't give a verdict yesterday.


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