BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Nine murder charges have been brought against 36 alleged gang members and many other charges filed, Xianning People's Procuratorate in Hubei Province said on Thursday.
Rumors have circulated since last March that well-known plutocrat and mineral tycoon Liu Han had disappeared soon after last year's national political sessions.
Famous for his philanthropy, Liu was elected political advisor in Sichuan Province three times in a row, and has over 20 honorary titles. His best known charitable act was the building of a rural elementary school complex which withstood the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
He is chairman of the boards of the Hanlong Group, the biggest private enterprise in Sichuan Province, and the listed Jinlu Group. He owns tens of subsidiary companies involved in electricity, energy, finance, mining, real estate and securities. Estimates put his worth in tens of billions of yuan.
Acting on the orders of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), in March last year the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) commanded police in Beijing, Hubei and Sichuan to investigate Liu, and bring to justice the alleged leader of a mafia-style criminal group which lurked behind Lui's glamorous facade.
The news of the prosecutions has sent tremors through Sichuan' s political and business circles, many of whom never suspected that such a huge network could be targeted.
AFTERNOON TEA SPREE
Liu's case first attracted attention with a very public murder on Jan. 10, 2009 in Guanghan, Sichuan. At an open-air teahouse in downtown Guanghan, that afternoon witnesses watched as several men got out of a car, fired over 10 shots, and raced off in the same car. Three people were shot dead and two unrelated persons injured by stray bullets
"It was so fast," said a witness. "It was like watching a movie."
Great uproar followed the shooting in Sichuan and sending shock waves all the way to the central authorities. The two suspects, Yuan Shaolin and Zhang Donghua, were soon captured and they had little hesitation in naming Liu Wei as the man behind the killing. By that time, Liu Wei had already absconded and became an MPS class-A wanted man.
Liu Wei is the younger brother of Liu Han. At the time, he was boss of Guanghan Yiyuan Industrial Corporation and a popular entrepreneur and philanthropist; a torch bearer in the run up to the Beijing Olympics in August 2008.
However, to those who really knew him, Liu Wei is a ruthless underworld kingpin who controlled gambling, loan sharking and construction projects. Chen Fuwei, one of men slain in the teahouse, was Liu's sworn enemy.
The police received tip-offs of Liu Wei's whereabouts from time to time in the ensuing four years, but every time the net tightened around him Liu Wei slipped away again.
All this time Liu Wei had not left Guanghan, because there, he has a patron, big brother Liu Han.
NO ONE CAME TO TROUBLE US
Liu Han was born in 1965. In the early 1990s, Liu Han and Liu Wei ran gambling game centers in Guanghan. At that time, the brothers mustered a gang of local thugs and vagrants.
In 1993, the brothers openly broke a seal on properties that had been seized by the court and used guns against law enforcers. That year, Liu Han fraudulently obtained a loan that he used to do business with someone called Sun, and his fortune began to grow and grow. Sun has been investigated in a separate case.
Always on the look out for greater profits, in 1998, one of Liu Han's companies waded into a real estate development project in Xiaodao Village, Mianyang, Sichuan's second largest city. After a noisy confrontation with villagers over demolition compensation, Tang Xianbing, a security guard with Liu Han's company, stabbed and killed Xiong Wei, leader of the protestors.
"Nothing happened to me after the killing, and that made me bolder and more unscrupulous," Tang said in his confession. "I would do anything for the company, even murder. I no longer felt any fear."
Silenced by the murder, the villagers stood aside and made way for the development project.
Five days after the killing of Xiong Wei, Liu Han ordered Zeng Jianjun, one of his henchmen, to shoot dead rival gang boss Zhou Zheng, on a Guanghan street.
"Many people knew that the shooting was our doing, but no one came to trouble us," said Zeng.
Impunity brought even more flagrant crimes and killings.
In February 1999, Wang Yongcheng, another gang boss in Mianyang, threatened blow up Liu Han's company building. "No fear," Liu Han was said to have told his subordinates. "Get some one to handle him."
A dozen days later, Wang was gunned down by a shooter sent by one of Liu Han's lackeys, Sun Huajun.
In September 2000, Liu Wei this time, instructed his men to brutally kill Liang Shiqi. Liang was an old neighbor of the Lius, whose aunt had raised Liu Han as her own. Liu Wei ordered the killing out of a suspicion that Liang has pocketed his "dog minding fees".
In May 2002, Liu Han's bodyguards Qiu Defeng and Huan Lizhu provoked a brawl in a recreation center in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, gathering a crowd to beat up passersby. One person was killed and many injured.
Out of all this killing, only Qiu received four years in prison. Seemingly immune from any punishment, the other killers walked free.
Liu Han was soon established as a "kingpin" in Guanghan and Mianyang. Some of his victims were forced to leave their homes for years, in fear of his gang.
More than 100 members of the public were made to suffer by the group, but few reported any crime. Victims and their families did not even dare to speak the name "Liu" out loud, referring to them as "that family" instead.
"My father suffered a cerebral infraction after the murder. He cries every day, calling my brother's name," Xiong Li, sister of Xiong Wei, told Xinhua.
"One of our family has already been killed. We can not afford to lose another," the father of Zhou Zheng said, explaining that talking about his son's murder was taboo, even in family chats.
In 2008, Chen Fuwei, boss of another Guanghan gang, was released from prison, threatening to take revenge on the Liu brothers. In response, Liu Wei called in Wen Xiangzhuo and Kuang Xiaoping and told them to "get rid of Chen."
"I will take care of any contingencies," he told them.
The killing took place in broad daylight on Jan. 10, 2009.
After the killing, Liu Han arranged for his brother Liu Wei to disappear and lobbied for his innocence. Liu Han had met with his younger brother many times since then, giving him millions of yuan, and fabricated a letter to Beijing saying that "Liu Wei is innocent".
Evidence collected in the investigation show Liu Han's gang involved in dozens of serious criminal offenses including homicides, assaults and illegal detentions, over a period of more than ten years. There have been at least nine deaths, five of which were the result of gunfire.