A gang of 200 thugs successfully prevented 10 judges and court marshals from executing a court order in Hebei province on Saturday, dealing another severe blow to the country's frail rule of law. The officials travelled from Beijing's Tongzhou county to Zunhua city , Hebei province, on Saturday morning to renew an order freezing 900,000 yuan (HK$1,022,900) in bank accounts owned by Hebei-based Tangshan Jinbaili Beer Company, according to the Beijing Times. The Tongzhou court ruled in 2001 that the predecessor of the Tangshan beer company owed a Beijing-based label-printing company a total of 3 million yuan in unpaid printing fees. The company's predecessor declared bankruptcy and refused to pay the sum, although it continued operations in the original factory under the name of Tangshan Jinbaili Beer Company. Six months ago, the Tongzhou court froze 900,000 yuan owned by the company but the order was due to expire yesterday. After encountering difficulties in the past, the Tongzhou court decided to send a team of 10 to Hebei but the team were no match for a gang of 200 men. When the judges arrived at the bank at 10am, they were immediately cordoned off from the bank tellers by a row of men in blue uniforms. They were also stopped from leaving the bank when their car was surrounded. The number of men swelled to 200. The men told the judges to release the funds, saying that otherwise they would not be able to leave. The judges were tailed, even when they went to the washrooms. At midday, the men ordered a car-load of bread and sausages for lunch, determined to stay until the judges gave in. Meanwhile, they ignored the judges' accusation that they were breaking the law and although police officers arrived at the scene after the officials appealed to local police and courts for help, the police soon left because no physical contact had ensued. Finally at 4pm, after seeking instructions from the Beijing High People's Court, the Tongzhou judges released the funds and were allowed to leave the bank. The 900,000 yuan was transferred within minutes. According to the newspaper, the Beijing High People's Court has reported the incident to the central government and is seeking co-operation from the Hebei High People's Court.