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30 others punished in trial involving bribery of senior public officials
A gang boss was sentenced to death on Tuesday in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, for 10 charges including intentional injury, gun trade and organized crimes.
Another 30 gang members received penalties ranging from two years in prison to death with reprieve, according to the Intermediate People's Court of Qingdao. Only one was exempted from criminal punishment for minor offences.
They are key members among the 144 suspects involved in this massive gang-related case. Others will receive sentences by the end of this month, according to a court statement.
The verdict for Nie Lei, the gang leader, is more than 130 pages long, and it took about six hours for judges to read the verdicts for all 32 suspects on Tuesday.
They have been accused of illegally possessing 13 guns, and committing more than 40 crimes resulting in two deaths, one serious injury and 21 slight injuries, according to the court.
"This has been the biggest case in the city given the large number of defendants," Zou Chuanning, president of the court, said at a news conference on Monday, a day ahead of the verdict.
"It's also highly complicated and judges have been busily working on it for about three months," he said.
According to the verdict, Nie, together with his cohorts, started real estate and entertainment businesses in 1995 and quickly gathered a fortune.
In 1998, he began to expand his group, and an organized gang with relatively fixed members and clear internal structure was gradually formed. This highly disciplined organization was even named the "Nie Lei Company" after its chief, the verdict said.
The gang then set up new real estate companies and night clubs. At Xinyicheng Night Club, in downtown Qingdao, Nie organized women to offer sex services, which brought him profits of tens of millions of yuan, according to the verdict.
They also bribed a number of government and judicial officials for protection, which made police investigations very difficult in the early stage, the verdict said.
"Judicial officials have overcome a lot of hardships because the suspects have roped in some senior local officials, and a lot of evidence has been destroyed," Zou said.
The suspects include a number of police officers, such as Yu Guoming, head of the public security bureau of Shibei district, and Feng Yuexin, head of the Licang district police bureau.
No verdicts have been announced for these two former police chiefs.
Zhu Xun contributed to this story.