Siege at hotel after triad boss dies in toilet

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 June, 2011, 12:00am


Triad gangsters waged a campaign of intimidation and extortion against the management of a top hotel in Shenzhen after a crime boss died of a heart attack in its lobby toilet.

Two people with personal knowledge of the events said the underworld chief was found in a coma at the Four Points by Sheraton Shenzhen hotel on May 26.

The hotel - managed by the New York-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, one of the world's largest leisure companies - is just a few minutes' drive from the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint.

A group of between 30 and 40 people from Shenzhen's Longgang district, speaking the Chaozhou dialect, occupied the hotel's lobby for most of last week and demanded compensation.

'They accused the hotel of failing to provide sufficient assistance to save the man's life, including timely first aid ... and demanded a huge and unreasonable amount of compensation from the hotel,' one witness said, adding that some hotel staff were injured by gang members.

'Rather than stopping the gangsters, the police only mediated between them and the hotel. The triads were asking for 205,000 yuan (HK$245,800) as compensation,'' the witness said. It is not known if money actually changed hands.

At least five police vehicles were parked outside the luxury hotel last Monday as police, triad members and hotel management met inside with two armed officers standing guard outside the meeting room.

An official from the Fubao police station confirmed the hotel was the scene of incidents on May 27 and last Monday. But he said the case was closed and gave no further details.

Hotel communications manager Mandy Li said the management would not comment on whether the police had offered the hotel enough protection and assistance because it was a 'sensitive issue''.

There was no response to inquiries made to Starwood's public affairs departments in the United States and Shanghai. The incident comes just two months before the city hosts the 2011 Summer Universiade, sparking concerns about Shenzhen's ability to manage public security during the world university games.

Shenzhen officials, who declined to be named, said the police tried to mediate in the dispute rather than punish the triads because they had been ordered by the local authorities to keep everything under control.

The officials said the authorities believed an exchange of money would be the preferred solution.

Shenzhen has tightened security measures ahead if the games.

Last month, Shenzhen Communist Party boss Wang Rong told the city's policemen at a Universiade safety rally that he would not allow any mistakes or carelessness on security during the games, which will run from August 12 to 23.

A recent notice issued by Shenzhen's Housing and Construction Bureau warned migrant workers not to petition, gather together or use any 'abnormal methods' to seek unpaid salaries between May 1 and September 30, or their protests could be regarded as criminal acts.

'Anyone who organises or takes part in a group petition will be punished severely, and those who have brought about serious consequences or bad results will be the subject of a legal responsibilities inquiry,' the notice said.

The authorities withdrew the notice after it attracted nationwide criticism.

Shenzhen authorities are also considering requiring people to present their identity cards when entering Metro stations or buying knives in July and August as an anti-crime measure, The Southern Metropolis News reported.

It said anyone carrying an unsheathed knife in the street could face a 100 yuan (HK$119) fine.

In a statement released late last week, a spokesman for Four Points by Sheraton Shenzhen said: 'On the evening of May 26, a visitor to the hotel was found unconscious in the hotel lobby bathroom.

'Hotel associates immediately contacted the ambulance emergency service and the Public Security Bureau. Both attended to the guest but were unfortunately unable to revive him.

'The hotel management provided support and assistance to the family. We would like to sincerely express our very deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased.

'The safety and security of our guests and associates continues to be a priority at all times.''