'Snakehead' home attacked

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 June, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 June, 2000, 12:00am


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Fujian villagers who believe their relatives were among the 58 Chinese found dead in a truck at a British port attacked the luxury home of a suspected snakehead yesterday.

The families vented their fury on the six-storey Jiudian village home of He Zhongfang, 100km south of Fuzhou. He had fled after the bodies were found in an air-tight container in Dover on Monday.

About 70 angry villagers gathered at the house, screaming abuse before hurling rocks and stones and smashing windows. 'Your money is dirty,' one woman screamed. People, believed to be He's relatives, were seen inside weeping and moving furniture out of the house.

The villagers said that He had promised to smuggle the illegal immigrants by air and would not sneak them into Britain by container.

At the other end of the village, about six distraught women, claiming to be mothers of some of the stowaways, wept outside the deserted house of another suspected snakehead.

At Yugui village, about 3km from Jiangjing, a resident said two young men had lost contact with their family about a week ago after arriving in western Europe and were believed to be among the 58 victims. Another resident said: 'These deaths won't affect people's desire to go abroad. The chances of sending home money are tremendous. You can make up to US$1,300 (HK$10,000) a month in Britain. You can't make that in a year here.' A South China Morning Post reporter and photographer were questioned at the Jiangjing government building after Yugui village officials accused them of theft and tried to take them by taxi to an unspecified location.

British police said yesterday that none of a group of Chinese illegal immigrants captured on film in Belgium two months ago were among the 58 dead, as had earlier been thought.