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February 12, 2010

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Prison escapees face death count

THREE inmates in northern China who killed a guard, broke out of prison, and sparked a nationwide manhunt last October stood trial yesterday on charges of murder, robbery, kidnapping and theft.

The three - Dong Jijia, Qiao Haiqiang, and Li Hongbing, aged 21 to 28 - pleaded guilty to all charges yesterday in Hohhot Intermediate People's Court in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The three, with another inmate Gao Bo who was shot dead when he resisted arrest on October 20, plotted for more than a year for the prison break from Hohhot No.1 Prison, the court heard.

They stabbed guard Lan Jianguo 54 times, killing him, when they broke out of the jail on October 17 last year.

Lan's wife, Li Haiyan, attended the trial yesterday and wept in court. Li's lawyer has put in a claim for compensation of 300,000 yuan (US$43,921).

The trial is expected to wind up today.

The court heard that the four prisoners had plotted a more peaceful escape. Qiao and Dong, the masterminds of the breakout, planned to stage a modern Trojan Horse ruse by hiding themselves in a cement tanker and escape jail when police sent the vehicles out.

When they were about to do so, the cement tankers stopped coming to the prison.

They made four knives using various materials while laboring in the jail.

They tied up a guard surnamed Xu when they were sorting ice-cream sticks in the workshop. They stripped Xu of his police uniform and Qiao put it on.

The four used some gasoline to bleach their prison uniforms and made them look like street clothes. They killed Lan on their way out and injured another prison guard.

After the men escaped, they dragged ataxi driver out of his cab and drove awayon their own, first robbing a female passenger of 700 yuan.

The money enabled them to hire another cab when the stolen cab ran out of gas.

The court said some of the details of the case would not be publicized as the inside structure and working schedule of the prison should be kept confidential.

A member of the China Law Society, Zhang Ping, said the three would certainly receive death sentences as two were on death row and one was serving a life sentence before the escape.


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