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16 face charges of disc pirating
By Li Dapeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-13 00:21

The largest case involving illegal audio-visual products in China came to trial in South China's Guangdong Province Monday.

Sixteen suspects face charges involving more than 6.23 million illegitimate audio-visual products, including 4.4 million obscene discs.

The confiscated materials represent one-third of the pornographic materials police say they have captured in the past eight years in the nation.

The 6.23 million such products captured in a single case has broken a Chinese record since the government began conducting its national fight against audio-visual piracy.

An official of Guangzhou Municipal People's Procuratorate said this case has apparent familial traits.

Most of the suspects are from Chaoyang and Shantou of Guangdong Province.

The principal suspect Chen Songbo, 38, had been engaged in this illegal business since 2001. His wife Ma Chanzhen as well as his two younger brothers were also involved, authorities said.

In court, Chen, who is a Chaoyang resident of Guangdong Province, had no comment on the allegations.

Since August 2001, Chen rented a warehouse and hired some guys to start his "big deal" in Chaoyang.

They purchased more than 10 million illegal discs from foreign countries, then sold them at higher prices with a price difference about 0.03-to-0.15 yuan per item.

Before their illegitimate business was exposed in March 2003, they had sold more than 5.07 million items and illegally gained 350,000 yuan (US$42,300).

The suspects also set up a huge sales network across the nation. Lots of the involved audio-visual products were distributed to many regions including Shanghai, Shenyang, Beijing and Hefei.

Chen confessed that he began to buy the pirated discs from a man surnamed Huang in Hong Kong at the end of 2002.

"I never knew whether there were pornographic discs among the pirated products," said Chen.

The case will likely be tried in three days.

Piracy on audio-visual products has become a die-hard problem challenging the whole world, particularly developing countries, according to police. In China, the battle between legitimate, pirated and so-called "yellow" products has never ceased since the 1980s when the country's audio-visual products embarked on a rapid development.

Only in the year 2002, the number of the confiscated illegal audio-visual products around the nation has reached 43,447,000.

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