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Former judicial official stands trial in China gang crackdown

A former top judicial official in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality stood trial today on charges of protecting mafia-style gangs and other crimes, the latest court hearing in the city's sweeping crackdown on gang crimes.

Wen Qiang, 55, former director of the Chongqing Municipal Judicial Bureau, was also accused of taking bribes, rape and owning huge amounts of money and assets he could not justify, heard the Chongqing Municipal No. 5 Intermediate People's Court.

Prosecutors said Wen took bribes totaling more than 16 million yuan (US$2.4 million) personally or through his wife Zhou Xiaoya from 1996 to 2009 from ring leaders, government officials, companies and businessmen.

To return favors to bribers, Wen, who had served as a senior police officer in Chongqing for 16 years, gave protection to gangs, offered posts for officials, and helped companies and businessmen obtain gains and evade police investigations, prosecutors said.

Wen was also charged with raping a university student on several occasions in 2007 and 2008.

In addition, Wen could not account for the source of more than 10 million yuan in his personal assets.

Other defendants also brought to the court together with Wen Tuesday included his wife Zhou Xiaoya and three senior former Chongqing policemen, Huang Daiqiang, Zhao Liming and Chen Tao.

Zhou was accused of seeking gains for others and illegally taking money of 8.16 million yuan from them by taking the advantage of being the spouse of government official.

The three former police officers face a series of charges including bribery and protecting gangs.

The trial is expected to last four or five days.

Wen was among many high-ranking local officials prosecuted during the massive crackdown against organized crimes started in June last year in Chongqing, which exposed connections between police and criminals.

The local authorities have detained 1,176 people and prosecuted 782, including 78 gangs, allegedly involved in organized crimes, over the past six months.

A total of 87 officials have been prosecuted during the crackdown, including 12 high-ranking officials in the city.

Just a day earlier, a former Chongqing police officer, 47-year-old Yue Cun, was sentenced to death after being found guilty of running a mafia-style gang, murder, intentional injury and other crimes.


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