Six face charges over beating death at mine

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2007, 12:00am

Six people will face prosecution for the death of a reporter who was beaten by thugs at an illegal coalmine in Shanxi province , police said yesterday.

A Public Security Bureau staff member in Datong , who did not give his name, said police had completed their investigation into the death of Lan Chengzhang , an employee of the China Trade News, although one suspect was still at large.

Those arrested were transferred last Thursday to the prosecutor's office in Hunyuan county, where 35-year-old Lan was attacked on January 10 and died from a brain haemorrhage the following day.

The Hunyuan prosecutor's office said the case had been handed to the Datong office on Friday and would probably go to trial next month.

But both the police and prosecutor's office said it was unclear what charges the six, who include the owner of the coal mine, would be facing.

'The charges should be related to actions resulting in death,' said a staff member from the Hunyuan prosecutor's office.

A police investigation concluded mine operator Hou Zhenrun was suspected of hiring eight thugs to beat up Lan, fellow reporter Chang Hanwen and a driver from the Shanxi bureau of the China Trade News.

Kang Quanming , a driver hired by the coal mine, was still on the run, police said.

Hou ordered the attack because he believed Lan was a fake reporter without a licence. The China Trade News said Lan had yet to receive a reporter's licence because he was still on probation.

Police said Lan was carrying out an investigation into the mine in an attempt to extort money by threatening to expose its irregularities.

Four newspaper officials have been punished for their roles in Lan's death.