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December 28, 2009

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Murder seen in mine 'accidents'

SOME mining accidents of recent years in China might have been deliberately man-made, the victims very likely mentally challenged people brought from a remote mountainous county to be killed in schemes to blackmail mine owners into paying compensation.

A newspaper reported that more than 17 fatal mining accidents, which took place from 2007, are now getting close scrutiny by the police authorities as possible murder-blackmail cases.

Most of the people involved in the cases were from Leibo County in southwestern China's Sichuan Province, the Wuhan-based Chutian Metropolis Daily reported yesterday.

A recent such accident, at a coal mine in Daye City of Hubei Province on November 21, is now under investigation because the victim was using the name of somebody who died four years ago, police discovered.

His so-called relatives, who demanded compensation from the mine owner, went missing after learning about the discovery by Daye police.

The dead and four of the five "relatives" were from Leibo County, the newspaper said.

Daye police sent to Leibo were told by local officers that law enforcement authorities of nine provinces around China had sought their help for similar reasons.

According to Leibo police, someone in neighboring Meigu County initially created the scam at a coal mine in Fujian Province in 2007. It was immediately copied by some Leibo villagers, many of whom were migrant workers.

All the victims were mentally challenged and with unknown identifications, according to Leibo police.

A drastic growth of similar cases was reported in the second half of the year, they added, but without citing specific figures.

A local driver told Daye officers that some villagers in Leibo raised mentally challenged people as their captives and traded them or even killed them for profit.

According to the driver, some villagers specialized in the business of raising such people deep in the mountains before selling them to local families short of laborers or killing them at construction sites or mines to fabricate accidents for compensation.


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