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Best-mistress contest takes fatal turn at its finish

THE loser of a bizarre talent contest drove her former lover and the man's four other mistresses off a cliff in eastern China's Shandong Province in an apparent fit of anger, killing herself and injuring the others.

The survivors told police the crash was an accident, but a letter left by the dead woman revealed the details of an unusual competition gone awry. According to the document, the businessman was going to lay off four of his five mistresses due to financial trouble. The women were allowed to vie for the remaining position by competing on their looks, their singing and speaking and their ability to drink alcohol, the Qingdao-based Peninsula Metropolis Daily newspaper reported yesterday.

The case dates back to December 6, when police in Qingdao received a report that a car had crashed through the guardrail of a mountain highway and plummeted into a deep valley. The female driver died at the scene while five others, including a man, were sent to a hospital.

Police thought at first it was simply a traffic accident involving friends on a leisure trip. But the parents of the dead woman, identified as a 29-year-old surnamed Yu, told police that a man surnamed Fan was to blame.

Yu left behind a letter that claimed she and the four other women were Fan's mistresses. Fan met Yu in 2000 in a Qingdao restaurant where she worked as a waitress, the report said. The Shanxi native reportedly became Fan's mistress shortly thereafter and lived with him in a two-room apartment bought by the man.

Fan, a married entrepreneur, also kept other four mistresses - two of whom were his employees and two his former clients, the report said.

Fan introduced the five to each other, but none chose to break up with him, as each reportedly received 5,000 yuan (US$733) a month plus a rent-free apartment.

But business began to go bad, and Fan decided to lay off all but one mistress to save money, according to the newspaper report. To select the best one, he reportedly staged a talent show in a hotel last May, even inviting an instructor from a local modeling agency to be a judge, although Fan did not reveal his true purpose.

Yu was knocked out in the first round based on her looks, and a Ms Liu eventually took the crown after she won the drinking contest.

When Fan told Yu she had lost her position and he was selling her apartment, she decided to take revenge, the newspaper said.

The crash happened after Yu invited Fan and the other four women to tour Laoshan Mountain, a scenic site in Qingdao, before she returned to her home province.

Fan shut down his company after the crash, and his wife demanded a divorce after learning about his affairs. Fan later paid 580,000 yuan to Yu's parents as compensation for her death. And the other four mistresses went off on their own.


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