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December 24, 2010

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Gunfight death penalty

THREE gang members were sentenced to death yesterday for their part in a gun battle sparked by a female drug dealer that left two men dead.

Besides the three, the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court announced its verdict on eight other members of the two gangs involved in the shootout in May 2009.

The court hearing took place nine months ago.

Two gang members were killed and two others injured in the gunfight on Changshou Road in Putuo District.

Liu Xiaohua, head of a Fujian Province gang, was sentenced to death for leading a criminal gang and committing a series of other crimes.

Two other gang members who killed the men in the fight also received the death penalty.

Dong Shuang, a 20-year-old female drug dealer whose debt dispute prompted the incident, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for dealing in narcotics. Other gang members received sentences ranging from two years to life imprisonment.

Police seized 15 guns and 247 bullets after the fight.

Dong borrowed 20,000 yuan (US$3,008) from Liu in April 2009 to buy 100 grams of methamphetamine - or ice - from a drug dealer in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, which neighbors Shanghai. She sold 10 grams for 3,000 yuan to a man in Changzhou and took the rest back to Shanghai to sell.

When Dong failed to pay back the debt, the Fujian gang went to the Changshou Road inn where she and her boyfriend, Zhu Zhangui, were living and demanded the money at gunpoint on May 22, 2009.

Zhu called his friends for help, and once the reinforcements arrived the dispute escalated. It spilled outside, with gang members fighting with home-made guns and knives.

In the melee, Zhang Hongfu, 32, a friend of Zhu from northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, shot dead Ma Xiaoling, a member of the Fujian gang. Ai Daiqing of the Fujian gang shot dead Li Jianxun, one of Zhu's friends. Two others were injured.

Dong was detained by police at the Shanghai Railway Station as she tried to flee and was found to be carrying drugs. She was charged with selling 127 grams of drugs, including 27 grams of ecstasy.

In their subsequent investigation, officers found that the Fujian gang had been involved in a whole range of crimes, including the drugs trade, manufacturing guns and bullets, causing disturbances and obstructing police from performing their duty.

The Fujian gang made guns by buying starter pistols and fitting them with home-made barrels.

The court believed Liu, 33, who had previously been jailed for eight years for drug crimes, headed the criminal gang, though he and most of his gang members denied this.

When police went to detain Liu, he snatched a gun from an officer and attempted to kill him, the court heard.

In addition to the three death sentences, three members of the Fujian gang received sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment for a number of serious crimes.

Zhu received a nine-year prison sentence, while three of his friends were given jail terms ranging from two to five years.


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