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September 2, 2009

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Crime busters pursue officials who aid gangs

GOVERNMENT officials and judicial departments offering "protective umbrellas" to gangsters contributed to widespread gang-related crimes across the country, Chinese authorities said yesterday.

Courts across the country have convicted 12,796 people in connection with 1,171 cases of organized crime since the beginning of 2006, a senior official of the Supreme People's Court said.

Around 6,700 people convicted in more than 720 of the cases had exhausted the appeals process, said Gao Jinghong, director of the SPC office on gang crime.

More than 3,100 had received prison terms of more than five years, life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

The figures covered organized-crime cases handled by law enforcement agencies during a nationwide campaign that ran from the start of 2006 until the end of July this year.

"Gang networks are still active in China," and police will maintain efforts to wipe out organized crime and its "protective umbrella," said Liao Jinrong, deputy director of the criminal investigation bureau of the Ministry of Public Security.

The gangsters' prosperity was often a result of protection by government officials and judiciary departments.

Huang Hailong, deputy director of the investigation supervision department of China's top prosecutor's office, said 149 people had been prosecuted on charges of abuse of power and shielding criminals.

Prosecutors investigated 166 people involved in 137 cases of organized crime and approved the arrests of 155, Huang said.

"A crackdown on officially sanctioned protection should be a priority," he said.

Liao said police detained more than 89,000 people allegedly involved in organized crime during the campaign.

The police investigated 1,267 organized-crime cases and broke up more than 13,000 gangs.

More than 400 gangs were involved in the construction, mining, transportation and wholesale sectors, and their illegal proceeds exceeded 4 billion yuan (US$588 million).

Officers also investigated more than 108,000 other cases, including 419 homicide and 10,088 assault cases.

"Over the past three years, violent criminal cases such as assaults, homicides, robberies, abductions, explosions, arsons and rapes have continued to decrease," Liao said.

The number of violent criminal cases in 2008 fell 11 percent compared with 2005 before the campaign began, he said.


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