Child trafficker kingpin gets death penalty in China

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The head of a criminal gang that abducted and trafficked children has been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in the south-western coastal city of Maoming in Guangdong province.

The verdict on the gang leader, surnamed Zhang, was handed down by the Maoming Intermediate People's Court at the end of last month (Jan).

Meanwhile, the court has confiscated all of Zhang's illegally gains, the verdict said.

In addition, 25 members of Zhang's gang received sentences ranging from a year and 3 months to life in prison and fined from 50,000 yuan (S$10,497) to more than 200,000 yuan, according to the verdict.

A woman surnamed Dong who used to be a key member of Zhang's gang was sentenced to life behind bars.

Dong used to be responsible for contacting buyers, trading, negotiating prices and collecting money for the gang.

"The crimes committed by Zhang and his gang were serious and have done great harm to society," the verdict said.

Zhang and his gang had abducted children since 2014 from rural Funing county in Southwest China's Yunnan province and brought them to Guangdong to earn big profits, the verdict said.

Guangdong, one of the country's economic powerhouses, is usually one of the major destinations for abducted children.

A child was typically sold for between 73,000 and 98,000 yuan, said the verdict.

But the verdict did not reveal how many children Zhang and his gang abducted and sold.

"Abducting children is a serious crime and usually causes serious damage to society," said Ye Guiming, a lawyer from Guangdong Keyun Law Firm.

"The sentence for Zhang with a two-year reprieve is suitable if he did not cause death and injury during his crimes," Ye told China Daily on Thursday (Feb 1).

He urged relevant departments to take effective and concrete measures to fight such crimes, including targeting child traffickers and buyers.

Zhang and his gang members were detained when police uncovered a major child abduction and trafficking case the previous year.

The case, which elicited a great deal of outrage from the public, was overseen by the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security.

A police officer from Guangdong Provincial Department of Public Security said police across the province will continue to redouble their efforts in fighting crimes involving abducting children and women.

"The police have zero tolerance for such crimes," said the officer, who did not want to be named.

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