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September 28, 2009

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Brothers take a hostage to pay for mom's care

TWO brothers who tried to pay for their mother's medical treatment by abducting a hostage in downtown Guangzhou last April were sentenced yesterday.

Baiyun District People's Court in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province in south China, sentenced Zhang Fangshu to five years and six months behind bars and fined him 2,000 yuan (US$292).

His younger brother Zhang Fangjun was given a lighter two-year suspended sentence and fined 1,000 yuan. The two Zhangs were then invited by the judge to accept a free session with a psychologist together with their mother Xie Shoucui.

The pair, from Chongqing Municipality, kidnapped a woman surnamed Kuang on April 21 to extort money to cover Xie's medical treatment.

Zhang Fangshu held a knife to Kuang's throat while his brother stood next to him displaying a poster demanding 18,000 yuan in loans from the government. They refused to release the hostage but were overpowered by police officers.

The court said it decided on a light penalty because it found the brothers didn't actually harm the hostage or take the money, and their only motive was to save their mother's life.

Earlier media reports said Xie, who had never left her hometown in Chongqing before, visited Guangzhou on September 24 to plead on behalf of her sons.


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