Former mining tycoon sentenced to death in China – by Megha Rajagopalan (Mineweb.com – May 23, 2014)

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Chinese court gives Liu Han, who led Hanlong Mining, a death sentence on gang charges.

BEIJING (REUTERS) – A former mining magnate with suspected ties to the family ofChina’s retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang was sentenced to death on Friday on charges of leading a gang on a crime spree spanning two decades.

The sentencing of Liu Han, handed down by a court in the central province of Hubei, was the culmination of one of the highest-profile cases against a private businessman since President Xi Jinping took office last year and began a campaign against pervasive graft.

Liu’s younger brother Liu Yong, also known as Liu Wei, was also sentenced to death. Microblog statements from state media outlets China Central Television and the Xinhua news agency said the brothers, along with their 36-member “mafia-style” gang, commmitted intentional homicide.

Xi’s crackdown has zeroed in on Sichuan province, where Liu’s company – privately held Hanlong Mining – is based. Sichuan was a power base for Zhou, the retired chief of China’s vast domestic security apparatus, who stands at the centre of the biggest corruption scandal in more than six decades, sources have told Reuters.

Sources have told Reuters that Liu was once a business associate of Zhou Bin, Zhou Yongkang’s eldest son.

State media have not explicitly linked Liu’s case to Zhou Yongkang, but have said Liu’s rise coincided with Zhou’s time as Sichuan’s Communist Party boss.

Liu’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

Willy Lam, a scholar of Chinese history and politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said there would be extra attention paid to the case because of Liu’s links to the Zhou family.

“I think what’s happening is that Xi Jinping and (Party anti-corruption tsar) Wang Qishan want to establish a harsh precedent because this is one of the biggest corruption cases since Xi took over,” Lam said. “They want to set a precedent to make people afraid, in a sense, to have a deterrence impact on corrupt officials.”

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