Chongqing court sentences 3 to death in mafia trial

15:53, October 21, 2009      

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A court in Chongqing Municipality sentenced three people to death on Wednesday in trials that have lifted the lid on the murky underworld in the city. And, another three were sentenced to death with two-year reprieves.

The court sentenced to death ring leader Yang Tianqing, 35, and five other defendants for murder, assault, extortion and other charges linked to organized crime.

Three of those sentenced were given two-year reprieves, meaning their sentences were likely to be commuted to life in prison after two years dependent on their behavior in prison, the court statement said.

"Yang Tianqing and others ... several times committed the crimes of pre-meditated murder, assault with the intention to injure, coercive business practices, extortion and other crimes," the court said on its website.

"This organization illegally controlled the Yubei District ... carried out illegal criminal activities against land and construction developers and coerced ordinary people. Their influence has been odious."

More than 1,500 suspects linked to organized crime groups have been arrested in the Chongqing crackdown, in which 14 top judicial and police officials have been implicated, according to a top party official, Liu Guanglei.

Wen Qiang, who became Chongqing's top judicial official last year after 16 years on the police force, stands accused of protecting an intricate web of businessmen, officials and mobsters in the city of 30 million people.

According to state media, he has been charged with shielding businesses in numerous sectors such as real estate, transportation, gambling and prostitution as well as a massive illegal loan racket.

Courts in Chongqing began hearing the cases last week.

The sentences handed down Wednesday came in two cases involving a total of 31 defendants, the court said. Others were handed jail sentences ranging from one year to life in prison. Sentences are pending in three other cases.

Source: People's Daily Online/Agencies

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