Chinese man beaten to death after he tried to flee pyramid scheme

Two killers given suspended death sentences and a third man was jailed for life

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 4:05pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 8:38pm

Two men have been given suspended death sentences and one jailed for life for killing a man who was trying to leave their pyramid scheme in eastern China, according to a newspaper report.

A 28-year-old named Wang Haitao was beaten to death for trying to escape a fraudulent scheme in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, in January 2014, The Beijing News reported on Wednesday.

The victim had been locked in a room and not allowed to leave after he phoned his wife at home in central Hubei, 900km (560 miles) away, to say he had been tricked into joining the organisation by a friend named Guo Liang.

He was beaten to death by three ringleaders of the scheme – Tan Zuai, Chen Fu and Yang Shengyou – and buried on a mountainside 20km away, where his body was found three years later.

The three were found guilty by the People’s Court of Hangzhou at a trial in December but details of the case were only made public in Wednesday’s report.

Tan and Zuai were given the death penalty, suspended for two years, for homicide, unlawful detention and organising a pyramid scheme.

Yang was given a life sentence for homicide.

The court also sentenced a fourth man, Wang Xing, for similar offences to Tan and Chen but the report did not explain his role in the crime or report what sentence he had been given.

On April 19, Tonglu county public prosecutor ruled that Wang’s friend Guo was responsible for deceiving him, and he was being prosecuted for illegal detention.

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The group had set up a front organisation that purported to sell health food and products to a company in Tianjin, a megacity on the east coast of China.

In early January 2014 Wang had phoned his wife, Zhang Daoqiong, and told her about the pyramid organisation.

Two weeks later he called again, for the last time, but did not say anything. That evening his wife phoned him back, but Wang did not answer.

Wang had a son and a daughter, aged eight and six respectively at the time of his death.

Guo claimed he had fled the organisation after witnessing the attack on his friend and contacted Wang’s wife in June to tell her about his escape – but did not mention the attack on her husband.

“At that time, I did not know he had been beaten and still had hope in my heart,” she was quoted as saying in the paper. She added that Guo later told her about the attack on her husband and she then contacted the police.

Officers raided the group’s headquarters but they had fled.

Three years later, in circumstances that remain mysterious, they started looking for Wang’s body on a mountain in Yaolin town, in Tonglu county and found it after a 14-day search.

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The court concluded that Wang had died after falling into a coma.

The three men put his body in a bag and kept it for four days before they buried it on the mountain before burning his clothes on the way back.

The report did not explain how or when the suspects had been arrested, but it said that Yang had denied participation in the assault.

Tan told the court the beating had lasted for 20 minutes but they did not intend to kill him.