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October 22, 2009

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3 to be executed in Chongqing crackdown on mafia-style crime

THREE men from two mafia-like organizations were sentenced to death yesterday for gang-related crimes including murder and blackmail, and another three were handed suspended death sentences, the first convictions in a months-long crackdown in Chongqing.

Another 25 gang members were sent to jail terms ranging from one year to life.

More than 1,544 suspects have been brought in since the gang sweep started in June in the southwest Chinese city, and more than a dozen crime gangs were busted.

Yang Tianqing, leader of a nine-member group, and henchman Liu Chenghu were among those given death sentences. Yang, 35, was also fined 500,000 yuan (US$73,000).

Chongqing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court found Yang guilty of leading a mafia-like organization, assault and battery, counterfeiting identification cards, blackmail, conducting business using force and possessing illegal guns and ammunition.

The court found Liu guilty of murder, assault and battery, counterfeiting identification cards, illegal confinement and taking part in a crime gang.

Two other members of the gang, Jian Shaokun and Zeng Chuan, were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, which means their penalty could be commuted to life imprisonment on good behavior.

Another five members received jail terms ranging from 11 years to life.

The court said the gang's crimes occurred over the past eight years and involved the killings of four people and intentional injuries to at least six.

Also yesterday, Chongqing's No. 3 Intermediate People's Court handed down a death penalty to Liu Zhongyong on charges of murder and running a crime gang.

Liu Zhongyong was also accused of running illegal coal mines in the suburbs of Chongqing and was held responsible for two cave-ins in 2006 and 2008 that killed three workers.

His 22-member gang was responsible for the killing of one person and the injuring of at least four others in Chongqing last year, a court statement said.

His right-hand man, Zheng Xin, received a death penalty with a two-year reprieve. The other 20 members were jailed for one to 17 years.

Courts in Chongqing began hearing the cases last week.

Another 23 suspects were on trial on similar charges on Monday and Tuesday at the Chongqing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court. The court will render sentences in those cases later.


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