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October 27, 2009

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Major crime-gang trial begins

THIRTY-ONE people went on trial yesterday on charges of gang-related crimes in Chongqing Municipality.

The hearing, which is expected to last five days at Chongqing No. 5 Intermediate People's Court, is one of a series of organized crime trials resulting from investigations into 14 alleged organized crime gangs in the city.

Li Qiang, a wealthy businessman and former deputy to the Chongqing Municipal People's Congress, who was alleged to be the gang leader, faces nine charges, including organizing and leading criminal gangs, disrupting public transportation, disturbing public order, concealing account books, bribery and tax evasion.

In court Li admitted to charges of operating illegal businesses and concealing account books.

He denied organizing and leading criminal gangs, saying he was not aware of the facts in the indictment or he was only informed by subordinates after the alleged facts occurred.

Li, who was handcuffed, had four companies under his name and controlled more than 100 bus routes in Chongqing. The four companies, mainly involving transportation and real estate, also face charges of illegal operations and tax evasion.

Another 20 alleged gang members were charged with participating in criminal organizations, disrupting public transportation and murder.

Three former civil servants were accused of concealing Li's alleged gang-related crimes and taking bribes.

The former officials are Xiao Qinglong, director of the Communication and Transportation Administration of Shapingba District of Chongqing, Jiang Hong, director of the Road Transport Administration of Banan District of Chongqing, and Jiang Chunyan, director of a complaints office under the Chongqing municipal government.

Seven other people were charged with concealing account books, disrupting public transportation, disrupting public order and illegal business operations.

Thirty local lawmakers and political advisers observed the trial yesterday. The defendants are represented by 40 lawyers.


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