Four sentenced to death for murder, fraud at N China mines

Updated: 2015-12-03 14:22


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TAIYUAN - Four people were sentenced to death in north China's Shanxi Province for murder, fraud and blackmail in a case involving fake mining accidents, local sources confirmed Thursday.

Wu Youxin, Chen Xiaoxin, Liu Quanyou and Liu Xianggang were suspected of killing three people between 2009 and 2011 in private coal mines with sticks or hammers, according to proceedings at the Intermediate People's Court of Yangquan City.

According to the court, they then asked Wu's wife and sister or hired others to pose as relatives of the victims and demand compensation, cheating mine owners of more than 890,000 yuan (about 139,107 U.S. dollars).

Wu, who masterminded the scheme, was fined 80,000 yuan and sentenced to death. Chen, Liu Quanyou and Liu Xianggang, who committed the murders along with Wu, also received the death penalty.

They first committed blackmail in 2007, when a developmentally disabled man accidentally drowned in an underground pit. Xiong Zijin, who also stood trial, claimed to be the man's brother and blackmailed the mine owner for 165,000 yuan. Xiong split the money with the other four suspects soon after.

Xiong was fined 120,000 yuan and sentenced to prison for seven years for fraud and blackmail.

All the defendants have appealed.

The crimes, which eerily resemble the plot of the movie "Blind Shaft," winner of the Silver Bear at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival, are not the first such case in China.

In July, a court in north China upheld the death sentence for five people who killed four miners and faked accidents at coal mines to claim compensation.