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Mekong River attack suspects' trial opens in Yunnan

(Xinhua)

13:23, September 20, 2012

Suspects of last year's deadly attack on the Mekong River that left 13 Chinese sailors killed are on trial at the Kunming Intermediate People's Court in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Sept. 20, 2012. Naw Kham from Myanmar, along with five other gang members, faced trial at the court. (Xinhua/Wang Shen)

KUNMING, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Six people suspected of taking part in an attack last year on the Mekong River that left 13 Chinese sailors dead went on trial on Thursday in a court in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

The trial of Naw Kham, head of an armed drug gang from Myanmar, along with five other gang members, started at 9:35 a.m. at the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming City, capital of Yunnan.

Present at the court were relatives of the 13 Chinese victims, embassy personnel of the related countries, Chinese legislators, political advisors, experts and representatives of local residents and media.

The six suspects, all foreigners, were charged with intentional homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping and ship hijacking.

The crime ring was busted earlier this year in a joint operation by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand after the brutal murders of Chinese sailors' triggered an outcry in China last year.

A previous police investigation found that Naw Kham, core members of the gang and a small number of Thai soldiers attacked, hijacked and finally murdered 13 Chinese sailors on two cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, on Oct. 5 in 2011 on the Mekong River.

Naw Kham, dubbed "Godfather" for running one of the most notorious armed drug rings on the section of the Mekong River near the China-Myanmar-Laos borders, was sent to China via a chartered plane in May.

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