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October 19, 2009

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Worker held after boss beaten dead

AN employee of the biggest state-owned steel mill in northeastern China's Jilin Province has been seized after his manager was beaten to death during a workers' protest in July.

Ji Yigang has been detained for allegedly bludgeoning Chen Guojun to death on July 24 and blocking ambulances.

Ji, 50, was a worker at the No.2 furnace of Tonghua Iron and Steel Group in Jilin's Tonghua City. The factory was taken over by a new parent company, Beijing-based privately owned Jianlong Heavy Machinery Group.

As the factory's general manager, Chen was in charge of implementing job cuts proposed by Jianlong.

But on the first day of the planned takeover on July 23, workers surrounded the mill and broke through a door where Chen was hiding, Tonghua police said.

The workers beat him up and left him to die on the ground, according to a government investigative report. The takeover was subsequently called off with an adjustment to its top management.

Chen was rescued and taken to hospital in the evening but certified dead at midnight.

Ji was caught last Friday and has confessed to Tonghua police. Another five suspects involved had surrendered to police previously.

Ji reportedly served three years of re-education through labor for theft in 1978 and an additional six-month term for attempting to escape.

He was again convicted for robbery and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment on June 20, 1982.

Tonghua Steel experienced heavy losses amid the global financial crisis, leading to a sharp fall in production and cuts in salaries, causing discontent among workers.

The conflict escalated when Jianlong threatened to lay off workers.


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