China executes ex-mine tycoon, 4 other members of crime gang that killed rivals

BEIJING, China – A former mining tycoon who led a mafia-style crime gang that ran casinos and killed rivals has been executed along with four of the gang’s members, a court in central China said Monday.

Liu Han had been chairman of energy conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group in the southwestern province of Sichuan. The company owns stakes in Australian and U.S. mines.

Prosecutors had painted a picture of Liu as running a vast criminal gang in the province with interests in mining, real estate and gambling. They said the group gunned down rivals, maintained fleets of several hundred cars, including Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Ferraris, and fostered ties to prosecutors and police with drug-fueled parties.

Police recovered three military-issue hand grenades, a half-dozen submachine guns, and firearms and knives from the gang, the official Xinhua News Agency previously reported.

Liu, his brother Liu Wei and three other men were executed at an unspecified time after their death sentences were approved by the Supreme People’s Court, according to a statement by the Xianning Intermediate People’s Court in Hubei province.

The five men were convicted in May last year of organizing, leading or participating in a gang, as well as murder.

The court said it organized meetings between the five and their families before they were executed.

Their penalties and executions come amid an anti-corruption crackdown launched by President Xi Jinping that has ensnared senior politicians and influential businessmen.

China’s Supreme People’s Court must review and approve all death sentences.