XIANNING, Hubei, May 23 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese court on Friday sentenced former mining tycoon Liu Han to death.
The Xianning Intermediate People's Court in central China's Hubei Province announced the verdicts for the first trials of 36 members of an alleged mafia-like gang led by Liu.
Liu Wei, Liu Han's brother, was also sentenced to death. The brothers were convicted of organizing and leading a criminal organization as well as murder, said a court statement.
They were deprived of political rights for life and the court will confiscate all their personal property, the statement said.
The Liu brothers and 34 other defendants were accused of crimes including organizing, leading and participating in a criminal gang and murder.
The 36 defendants were prosecuted in seven trials, the last of which ended on April 19. It was the largest criminal group of its kind to go on trial in China in recent years.
In addition to the Liu brothers, three other members were sentenced to death, five were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, four to life imprisonment and 22 to imprisonment of different terms.
There were three former civil servants among them. Liu Xuejun and Lyu Bin, former police officers, and Liu Zhongwei, a former prosecutor, were sentenced to 16 years, 11 years and 13 years in prison respectively for harboring Liu's organization and taking bribes.
The organization led by Liu was identified as a criminal organization as it had an established hierarchy and regular members, profited from criminal activities and carried out multiple murders, assaults and illegal detentions in an organized way, the court said.
The organization, which was harbored and indulged by government officials, illegally monopolized the gaming business in Guanghan City in southwest China's Sichuan Province, tyrannized local people and seriously harmed the local economic and social order, the court said.
It is unknown whether the Liu brothers and others convicted will appeal.
Liu Han was board chairman of the Hanlong Group, the biggest private enterprise in Sichuan. He owned subsidiary companies involved in electricity, energy, finance, mining, real estate and securities.
Starting in 1993, Liu Han, Liu Wei and Sun Xiaodong, who was not among the 36 tried, made their money running gambling dens and dealing in construction materials and futures in the Sichuan cities of Guanghan and Chengdu as well as Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities, according to a prosecutors' statement released when the trials began on March 31.
Since 1997, when Liu Han and Sun Xiaodong set up the Hanlong Group in Mianyang, the two cooperated with Liu Wei in recruiting a gang of thugs, and the group gradually developed into a relatively stable criminal organization. The organization had ten steady members and another 20 followers. Liu Han, Liu Wei and Sun were the organizers and leaders of the group.
The group boasted a clear division of labor with Liu Han responsible for commanding the group and decision making, Sun implementing Liu's instructions and managing Hanlong's daily operations, and Liu Wei leading the hatchet men or "bodyguards."