The court hearing for the largest-ever case of narcotics production in Beijing opened yesterday.
Four men from Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, are charged with producing about 166 kg of drugs in the nation's capital.
In addition, one member of the group, 41-year-old Liang Ruinan, is accused of illegally possessing more than 50 g of methamphetamine, otherwise known as "ice".
In 1983, Liang was sentenced to life imprisonment for stealing guns, illegal border crossing and burglary, but was released on parole in 1996.
In 2001, he was sentenced to 11 months for producing drugs on behalf of Tan Zhirong, a drug trafficker also known as "Ah Rong", but was released a month later.
Liang admitted he was again working for Tan, for a fee of 100,000 yuan, but denied being involved in the production of the drugs. He said he knew nothing other than that they were to be smuggled abroad.
The three other suspects also said they had "nothing to do" with the seized narcotics.
Public procurators, however, said the act was well planned.
According to them, in March of last year, Liang and Chen Bing drove from Guangzhou to Beijing, where they rented a room in the Huateng Yuan neighborhood of Chaoyang district to use as a base for their drug production.
After a week preparing the equipment needed for the production of ice, the two men said they left their car with Cheng Zhongying, a middleman who was paid 20,000 yuan by Liang Weiguang, another drug dealer, to drive it to an unknown address, where it was loaded with cases of ice in its solid form.
Procurators say these drugs were used by Li Huicheng and Indonesian Chen Shunshi to produce the 166 kg of "liquid" ice seized by drugs police. Li and Chen Shunshi had been picked up by Liang Ruinan and Chen Bing from a Beijing airport on March 28.
Li, who works in a casino in the Philippines, told the court he had not taken part in the production of the drugs.
He said Chen Shunshi had talked him into "helping out", but the chemical reactions during narcotic production burned his eyes, and he was forced to leave.
Chen Bing, a former prison friend of Liang Ruinan's, also denied prosecutors' charges, saying that he thought Liang was "in the oil painting business".
On April 2, 2006, Beijing police apprehended Chen Bing and Liang. On May 7, they picked up Cheng. Li was arrested by Thai police on December 19 in Thailand.
Adjudication on the case will be made some time next month, a court official said.
(China Daily June 27, 2007)