Three deaf and mute defendants convicted of running Beijing begging gang

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 May, 2014, 1:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 May, 2014, 6:35pm

Three deaf and mute defendants were convicted yesterday of forcing a group of young disabled people in their 20s – who were also deaf and mute – to beg on the streets of Beijing, the Beijing Times reported.

One of the defendants, Zhang Zhiguo, had been threatening at least four deaf and mute men to beg for donations since August 2011.

Zhang claimed that he collected 1,000-2,000 yuan (HK$1,260-2,520) from the four men every two to three days. He gave them just 20-30 yuan a day to live on.

He then handed over money to Yu Dongdong, 30, who in turn paid Wang Zhigang, 33.

“Yu has a bad temper, when we turned in less, we would be punished,” said Zhang. He added one punishment was standing still for up to three hours.

As one of the handlers of the beggars, Zhang earned more than 1.3 million yuan in nine months. He flew first class and often went to expensive Western restaurants, the newspaper reported.

All three defendants had denied the charges. Wang and Yu insisted they did not beat anyone.

Wang said he was borrowing money to establish a performing arts company. He said he had spent nearly 100,000 yuan to help disabled people.

Yu insisted she was “just working” with Wang and denied the pair wee dating.

When police escorted Yu into the court, she cried out and used sign language to tell her parents “Mum, I love you!” but she was stopped by the judge.

Yu’s parents said she lost the ability to speak at the age of three after medical poisoning. Yu’s father said that her daughter told him she was married at 19 but later divorced. Yu left her child with her parents and told them she was in Beijing selling bracelets.

The police arrested nine of the beggars last year, the report said. After investigating last September, the three organisers were arrested.