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December 15, 2009

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Execution for woman over child-sex ring

A FORMER teacher has been executed in southwest China's Guizhou Province for her major role in a prostitution ring which forced more than 20 underage students to have sex with men seeking virgins.

The Supreme People's Court in Beijing approved the death sentence imposed on Zhao Qingmei after she was found guilty of forcing the underage girls into prostitution and helping her husband to rape a girl aged under 14.

The Bijie Prefecture Intermediate People's Court sentenced Zhao to death on December 14, 2007, and handed down a death sentence with a two-year reprieve to her husband, Chi Yao, the same day.

The couple had served Xinfa Town Middle School in Guizhou's Weining County as teachers, which was a front for their evil endeavor of running the prostitution ring.

'Farm work'

Twenty-two pupils, six under 14, from middle and primary schools in Xinfa and a village girl were forced into prostitution between March and June 2006.

The girls were taken by several teachers on the pretext of doing farm work or going on vacation to hostels in Nayong County and Liupanshui City, both in the province.

Zhao appealed to the Guizhou Provincial Higher People's Court, but it upheld the death sentence and handed the matter over to the supreme court for final decision.

Fourteen other members of the ring, mostly hostel owners in Liupanshui City and Nayong County where the girls were forced to have sex for money, were jailed for periods ranging from life down to one year.

Members of the ring made 32,350 yuan (US$4,738) from their sordid business, according to earlier media reports.

Two officials were sacked and dozens of others penalized in the case.

Meanwhile, a case involving multiple child-rape and eight suspects is also being investigated by prosecutors in Guizhou's Zunyi City.

One of the accused, Yuan Ronghui, is charged with forcing underage schoolgirls into prostitution from October 2007 to July 2008.

The other seven - four civil servants, a lawmaker, a teacher and a taxi driver - are charged with raping the underage girls.

This inquiry began last August after a woman in Xishui told police her young teenage daughter had been raped.

By October 2008, police had uncovered a ring which abducted girls from a primary school and two secondary schools in the area and forced them into prostitution.

Some were tricked by their classmates and told they could only be released when they lured others into the business, police said.

Several similar cases, including one in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, have been reported.

The Zhejiang case involves at least 19 underage girls.

Under China's criminal law, the jail term for rapists is three to 10 years.

However, child rapists, including those convicted of statutory rape, can be sentenced to life terms or even the death penalty if they knew their victim was under 14.


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