The first 31 suspects went on trial this month and were sentenced today. Yang Tianqing, 35, the ringleader, was sentenced to death for mafia-style gang activities, murder, assault and extortion, along with five others. Three were given a two-year reprieve — the equivalent of a life sentence — but the other three face certain execution.
Yang was accused of ordering his men to stab an entertainment boss without killing him. The man’s body was found soaked in blood with 15 knife wounds. Also given the death penalty was Liu Zhongyong, accused of ordering the fatal stabbing of a man he thought was singing too loudly in a karaoke bar. He admitted only to owning a coal mine, to illegal mining and to paying off the family of three workers killed in a shaft collapse.
The court said: “This organisation illegally controlled the Yubei district . . . carried out illegal criminal activities against land and construction developers and coerced ordinary people. Their influence has been odious.”
At the end of the hearing, Yang urged the court to retry the case because it was so complicated. He said that there was “someone bigger” who was responsible for the killing.