Zhou Yongkang

Trial set for accused Sichuan mafia boss Liu Han

Mining tycoon Liu Han and 35 others face murder and firearms charges; reportedly had dealings with son of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 March, 2014, 4:41am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 March, 2014, 4:41am

A Sichuan mining tycoon believed to be closely connected with the wider investigation of retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang will face trial on Monday in a Hebei court.

Liu Han and 35 others, including his 44-year-old brother Liu Wei, will be tried in separate courts in Xianning city, China News Service reported, citing a court announcement.

Liu Han faces 15 charges, including of murder, financial crimes, running casinos and illegally selling firearms.

Prosecutors said he and his accomplices had accumulated nearly US$7 billion through their crimes and carried out at least nine murders, according to the indictment seen by the South China Morning Post.

Liu Han, 48, is the former chairman of Sichuan Hanlong, a privately owned conglomerate founded in 1997 that has been aggressively buying overseas assets in recent years and holds a stake in the Australian-listed iron ore miner Moly Mines.

A person with direct knowledge of the case earlier said the name of Zhou Yongkang's eldest son, Zhou Bin , appeared in the case files and transcripts of interviews with police.

But it did not appear in the indictment, nor did the names of any other Sichuan power players linked to the broader investigation into the former senior official. This suggests there may still be time before authorities announce the fate of Zhou Yongkang, who was placed under investigation in December.

Liu was involved in at least two business deals with Zhou Bin in the early 2000s, according to the source and earlier media reports.

"Separating the case of Liu and others might mean it was not the right time to announce Zhou Yongkang," said the person, who declined to be named.

Xinhua earlier described the case as the largest prosecution of a criminal gang by mainland authorities in recent memory.

According to the indictment, Liu has been running a mafia-style gang since 1997 and has been involved in illegal activities in Sichuan, Beijing and other regions.

The gang had a "militant underground" and police had seized least 20 guns, three grenades and more than 600 bullets, it said.

Prosecutors said Liu's gang rewarded obedience. "If you fight for the interest of the organisation, it will protect you even if you kill someone," the indictment quoted the gang's rules as saying.

"But if you are arrested, you can't say you are part of the organisation or you will be seriously punished. You can never leak any secrets of the organisation."

Prosecutors said the gang had "seriously disturbed local public security and economic and social order". Liu Han, who was arrested last year, could be given the death penalty if convicted.