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Zhuhai Prostitution hearing under way
( 2003-12-12 23:30) (China Daily)

Zhuhai Intermediate People's Court on Friday opened a hearing on the notorious prostitution scandal in Zhuhai involving more than 400 Japanese male tourists.

A general view of the five-star International Conference Hotel in Zhuhai which was closed by police after a sex scandal involving about 400 Japanese tourists and 500 local prostitutes on September 18, 2003. China has detained suspects involving in the scandal. [Reuters]
Because of the case's political sensitivity, it raised concerns at home and abroad and was postponed at least three times.

A total of 14 defendants were brought to court, including a manager of the hotel where the incident occurred, night club bosses, pimps, prostitutes and the employees of a local Japanese-funded tour company.

The incident caused an uproar among the Chinese public because which happened around September 18, a sensitive timing. On September 18, 1931, the Japanese army masterminded the September 18 Incident, which marked the beginning of the Japanese occupation of Northeast China, in addition that prostitution is illegal in China.

Court officials were not allowing the media and public access to the proceedings citing "individual privacy."

However, a spokesman who asked not to be named, said the defendants would be sentenced to between five and 10 years in jail if found guilty of various charges such as soliciting, prostitution and conspiracy.

The court did not pass a judgment yesterday, and officials indicated the hearing would last for a few days.

It is the first such case for Zhuhai Intermediate People's Court.

In October, the director and a deputy director of the Zhuhai Municipal Bureau of Public Security were punished in connection with the case.

And the two hotels that were involved were shut down when the case was exposed.

Between September 16 and 18, more than 400 Japanese male tourists patronized at least 500 Chinese prostitutes at a local five-star Zhuhai International Conference Centre Hotel.

The prostitutes came from night clubs in Zhuhai and neighbouring Shenzhen.

The prostitutes earned between 800 yuan (US$96) and 1,800 yuan (US$216) a night.

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