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Child prostitution boss faces death
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08:23, May 18, 2009

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The suspected lynchpin behind a child rape scandal in Guizhou province is to face the death penalty after prosecutors decided to try her on charges of forced prostitution, it was announced Sunday.

Yuan Li, 37, also know as Yuan Ronghui, is alleged to have arranged for seven men to have sex with 11 teenage girls, some as young as 13, between October 2007 and July last year in Xishui county.

She had previously faced charges of "sheltering and introducing prostitution", which carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

But a spokesperson for the prosecution, which is now led by a high-level prosecutor from the nearby city of Zunyi, said she will stand trial accused of the more severe charge of forced prostitution, which carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.

The child prostitution ring was only uncovered when one of the victim's parents reported the case to the police after discovering her daughter was pregnant.

The date of Yuan's trial, which will be held at the Intermediate People's Court in Zunyi, was still to be decided Sunday.

The decision over what charges the men who had sex with the girls should face has been a difficult one for prosecutors, according to legal experts, who told China Daily the country's courts do not have a clear definition of child rape.

Along with Yuan, four government officials, a legislator, a teacher and a taxi driver, who all allegedly paid the prostitutes, have been charged with statutory rape.

The investigation into the scandal, which was previously handled by officials in Xishui county, was suspended last month when local prosecutors announced they had found new evidence. Under China's criminal law, the jail term for rapists is three to 10 years. But child rapists, including those convicted of statutory rape, can be sentenced to life or even the death penalty, if they knew the victim was under 14.

Source: China Daily

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