Grudging loser arranged death

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 12:00am

A village chief has been stabbed to death, allegedly by his opponent in a village election who feared the chief would expose his suspect business deals.

Two hitmen are said to have killed village chief Peng Ziran on June 14. They ambushed him from behind a tree and stabbed him five times in the back before his wife found him bleeding and yelled for help, state press reported. Peng, 46, later died in hospital.

Peng was elected on November 29, 1999, for a three-year term to lead Majunzai, a village of about 200 people in Xian.

According to the official weekly magazine Xinwen Zhoukan and Peng's interim replacement, who gave only his last name of Wang, defeated candidate and former Communist Party chairman Xie Guowei arranged the murder. Peng beat Xie, 54, with 80 per cent of the 178 votes, he added.

On June 15, the man who allegedly acted as go-between for Xie, Jiang Zhongqing, confessed to his involvement in the murder. Xie was arrested two days later and police were able to arrest two alleged hitmen, Zhang Xiaobo and Ma Yahui, by June 23. All four men faced the death penalty, Mr Wang said.

He added that the defeated candidate wanted revenge on the winner.

But the villagers preferred Peng, who moved to Xian 20 years ago from a rural area of Hebei province and toiled to earn 100,000 yuan (HK$94,000) a year. He was easy-going and ready to help people, Mr Wang said.

The magazine article alleged Xie, despite his wealth, had fiddled village finances and allowed businesses to run up debts. It said Mr Peng may have been prepared to expose Xie's accounting practices.

AAThis meant Mr Xie wanted to keep all the power for himself,'' said Mr Wang, who expects to remain village chief until November next year. AAHe disregarded the interests of the village.''

China began allowing certain villagers to elect their chiefs in the 1980s. The 1999 election was the first for Majunzai.