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June 10, 2011

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Death sentence for gold raider

THE man behind a gold robbery during last year's World Expo was sentenced to death yesterday.

Zhang Degang, 33, was the brains behind the raid on a hypermarket in which three men brandishing replica guns stole gold bars and jewelry worth 1.01 million yuan (US$155,864), the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court was told.

Wang Fei, 33, who returned his 1 kilogram share of the gold, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve. Zhang Bin, 43, who surrendered to police, received a life sentence.

The court ruled that their personal property be confiscated and ordered them to pay compensation for the 2 kilograms of gold items still missing.

Zhang Degang and Zhang Bin both said they had lost their share.

Last August, Zhang Degang suggested to Wang that they rob the Jiujia Jewels counter at an E-Mart outlet on Lianhua Road S. in Minhang District. He used to work as a security guard in a residential community nearby and was familiar with the hypermarket's layout, the court heard. They later asked Zhang Bin to help them.

The gang, all from southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, bought explosive powder, camouflage clothes and weapons in Chongqing and came to Shanghai by train in early September.

They rented a house in Minhang District and studied the layout of the hypermarket. Zhang Degang made smoke bombs as part of their preparations for the raid.

At 8pm on September 8, they rushed to the counter, threatened staff with replica guns, threw smoke bombs and smashed a showcase, the court heard.

Zhang Bin surrendered to police soon afterwards.

Police recovered 1 kilogram of gold from Wang and a gold necklace from Zhang Degang.

The court ruled that Zhang Degang played the major role as he had suggested the robbery.

Wang was given his reprieve for his "good attitude" and because he had returned his gold.

Zhang Bin received a lighter sentence for surrendering to police.


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