Death penalty for Qingdao gangland boss
A triad boss at the heart of Qingdao's biggest mafia-style case in six decades was sentenced to death yesterday for a raft of murders and other violent crimes.
The case in Shandong province has also led to the downfall of more than 30 senior police officials who colluded with 45-year-old triad kingpin Nie Lei.
The Qingdao Intermediate People's Court found Nie guilty of 10 crimes, including involvement with other gang members in at least two murders and 22 assaults since 1995, heading up a criminal syndicate, running prostitution and gambling rings, gun possession and drug trafficking, Xinhua reported.
He had previously served 9 1/2 years in prison between 1980 and 1992 for robbery and other violent crimes.
Nie was among about 140 triad members arrested in September 2010, and went on trial in December.
'Nie and his mafia-style organisation operated nightclubs and organised for women to work as prostitutes there,' the court said in its judgment. '[The group] operated underground gambling for staggering profits and maintained its illegal business using violence and assault.'
The court also said the gang defeated its rivals and avoided prosecution by bribing officials, whose cases were being handled separately.
Mainland media reported that more than 30 senior Qingdao police officials, including Shibei district public security chief Yu Guoming and Feng Yuexin , the head of public security in Licang district, had been under investigation since May for allegedly protecting the gang.
A police chief also committed suicide in August before coming under formal investigation, according to the New Century Weekly magazine.
The gang operated freely under police protection until the syndicate took high-profile revenge on a rival in March 2010 by smashing up a nightclub and stabbing its manager.
The attacks occurred as the city's top officials hosted overseas athletes for in an international diving competition, shaming and infuriating the Qingdao authorities.
Three months after the nightclub assault, the Ministry of Public Security issued warrants for the arrest of Nie and his gang.
Of the 31 triad members who went on trial with Nie, one was given a two-year suspended death sentence, another was given life in prison, one was found not guilty and the other 28 were given jail terms ranging from two to 20 years. The other gang members will go on trial in Qingdao's five district courts by the end of this month.
Guo Jiasen, head of Shandong's procuratorate, was earlier quoted by Xinhua as saying that the collusion between police and triad members allowed the gang to run amok. Xinhua said that hundreds of police officers were involved in the year-long investigation into the gang, leading to the capture of 209 alleged members and the official arrests of 161, effectively crippling the criminal organisation.