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Court sentences 10 'Mafia-like' gangsters death
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The higher people's court in north China's Hebei Province on Friday upheld a ruling sentencing 10 members in a "Mafia-like group" to death, in a case which has involved most of the gang members in the province during the past six decades.

The higher court also upheld suspended death penalties for four gang members and imprisonment of 84 others, which were handed down by the Shijiazhuang Municipal Intermediate People's Court in June, 2007.

Ringleaders Zhang Baoyi, Gao Yuehui, He Pidong and their accomplices were convicted of 19 various crimes, such as organizing a gang, murder, intentionally injuring others, robbery and extortion, an official from the higher court said.

They were also accused of illegal gun possession and trading, and fighting in public.

The gangsters had monopolized road haulage business in the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang and several nearby cities by force, and had also forcibly fixed prices since February 2003.

The gang was involved in 38 cases of organized crime, in which 10 people were murdered and more than 20 others injured.

The gang was strictly hierarchical and has clear divisions of work:operations and management; bodyguards, and hatchet men, the court said.

Ringleaders Zhang Baoyi and He Pidong paid "salaries" to gang members, provided funds for criminal activities and took perpetrators under their wing, the court said.

The higher court in Hebei will submit the death penalties of the 10 defendants to the Supreme People's Court (SPC) for review and approval.

China launched a nationwide campaign to crack down on gang crimes in February 2006. More than 14,000 suspects have been involved in gang crimes in China over the past three years, according to a report by China Central Television (CCTV) last month.

The police have investigated more than 1,200 gang crime cases, dealt with more than 100,000 criminal cases, and confiscated almost 2,600 guns.

Gao Jinghong, director of the SPC office on gang crime crackdown, said more than 3,000 suspects in 700 cases had been sentenced to terms including imprisonment of more than five years, life imprisonment or even death penalties.

More than 46 percent of these suspects had received "severe punishment," Gao said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 18, 2009)

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