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October 15, 2009

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Alleged gang leader pleads innocent

THE only woman among 19 suspected gang leaders pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of heading a mafia-like crime organization, offering bribes and operating casinos as her trial began in Chongqing Municipality.

Xie Caiping, also the sister-in-law of Chongqing's former justice chief and deputy police director Wen Qiang, is also on trial for alleged illegal confinement and offering shelter to suspects in drug-related offenses, Chongqing-based news portal reported.

She told Chongqing No.5 Intermediate People's Court that she was not guilty and blamed all the wrongdoing on her henchmen, the report said. Xie argued in court that she was invited by friends to buy stakes in several "entertainment venues" because she liked poker.

"I made the rules for the players and bankers. I never made gang rules or paid any henchmen," she told the court, according to the Website. Xie even used some swear words during the cross examination.

She denied she was a gang leader but said the henchmen on watch or those offering predatory loans at the casinos simply worked for themselves.

She also described a gambler she was accused of confining illegally as "a friend." She told the court she tried to take back the money she borrowed from the casino for the addicted gambler, the report said.

Xie also denied any knowledge about the identity of a police officer who was beaten by casino watchmen during a secret investigation.

The 35-page indictment said Xie hired more than 20 ex-convicts or unemployed people and opened casinos in Chongqing starting in 2004, according to the Website. Xie's alleged gang expanded their business via a dozen casinos, where people also went to take drugs, in Chongqing's Yubei and Nan'an districts.

Xie offered bribes worth 180,000 yuan (US$26,366) to two police officers in Yubei in exchange for protection, the indictment said. By August 14, 2008 Xie and her group had raised about 2 million yuan from their casinos, the report said.

The hearing is expected to continue today.

Xie is said to have kept 16 young lovers.

Her brother-in-law Wen faces charges including rape, taking millions of yuan in bribes, possession of unaccounted-for assets and offering protection to gangs, the report said.


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