SHIJIAZHUANG, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- A court in north China on Thursday handed down death penalties to five people who faked fatal coal mine accidents to claim compensation.
The case is eerily similar to the plot of the movie "Blind Shaft," which won the Silver Bear award at 2003 Berlin Film Festival.
The five were found to have led a gang of 21 that killed four people with hammers in coal mine shafts from July 2011 to August 2012, said Handan City Intermediate People's Court.
After the murders, the gang faked mine accidents to defraud money from the mine owners in the name of victims' "relatives." They got away with 1.8 million yuan (290,000 U.S. dollars) from the first three cases before being caught by police during the fourth attempt.
Female gang members were responsible of luring the victims, mostly bachelors who were too poor to marry. While others scouted the shafts, killed the victims and extorted the money.
Other members of the gang received penalties ranging from death with two years' reprieve to jail terms of up to 15 years for intentional homicide and fraud.