China / Society

Former tycoon denies he ever headed a gang

By An Baijie in Xianning, Hubei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-02 07:41

Former mining tycoon Liu Han denied a charge of organizing and leading a Mafia-style criminal organization when he appeared in court on Tuesday.

Liu, 49, former chairman of Hanlong Group, the biggest private enterprise in Sichuan province, is being prosecuted on multiple charges, including murder.

He is one of 36 alleged gang members being tried simultaneously at seven courts in Xianning, Hubei province. The trials began on Monday.

On Tuesday, Liu said that Hanlong Group and its numerous subsidiary companies never made illegal profits and that he had never taken part in organized crime or led any gangs.

Prosecutors allege that from 1997 when Liu Han and Sun Xiaodong set up the Hanlong Group in Mianyang, the pair cooperated with Liu Wei, Liu Han's younger brother, in recruiting a gang of thugs, and that the group gradually developed into a "relatively stable" criminal organization.

The prosecutors allege that the organization had 10 regular members and another 20 followers.

They say the group had a clear division of labor, with Liu Han responsible for commanding it and for decision-making, Sun with implementing Liu's instructions and managing Hanlong's daily operations and Liu Wei with leading "hatchet men" or "bodyguards".

Liu Han told the court that he didn't have any bodyguards and that many of the alleged gangsters are his own or his family's drivers.

The defendants are accused of murdering nine people, five of them shot.

Liu Han said that even though he knew nothing about the murder cases, he was sorry for the victims and their family members since "people's lives are respectable and valuable".

He said he wished to compensate the victims' families "out of sympathy and humanity", but he said he had not killed anybody.

Prosecutors allege that the gang gained control of various local industries such as mining, and wielded huge influence, severely damaging economic and social order.

Liu Han told the court that all of his companies' businesses were open to market competition and that he had never taken control of local industries.

He also denied prosecutors' allegations that he held and traded guns illegally.

He admitted meeting with Liu Wei after the latter became a suspect in a shooting case in which three people died in 2009. But he said he knew nothing about the allegations of covering up for a criminal at that time.

The courts will continue to hear the cases on Wednesday.

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