"Gang protectors" to stand trial
Fri, Oct 30, 2009
China Daily/Asia News Network

By Wang Huazhong

CHONGQING, CHINA - The municipality's former judicial bureau chief, Wen Qiang, and deputy police chief Peng Changjian are expected to stand trial at the end of next month for protecting mafia-like gangs, a top prosecutor said yesterday.

Wen, 52, and Peng, 46, were arrested last month for allegedly serving as a "gang protectors", who concealed the proceeds of crimes and accepted bribes.

Some high-profile gangs led by Chen Mingliang, Chen Zhikun, Yue Ning and Yue Chun will be prosecuted early next month, procurator-general of the city's procuratorate Yu Min said at a press conference yesterday.

The municipality's Party chief Bo Xilai said on Wednesday the campaign against gangs would continue as organized crimes are still comparatively active in China.

Since Oct 12, Chongqing officials have brought six organized gangs to trial. Two trials have already concluded and six people have been sentenced to death or to death with reprieves.

The string of trials follows a gang-related crime crackdown, which has been hailed by the local public.

Bo said on Wednesday while visiting with local police officers that "black hands" were behind some mass incidents in the city, as they wanted to make use of the public to press the government to achieve what they want.

"The crackdown on organized gangs and violent groups will definitely affect some people's interests. However, the more noise we hear, the more war is necessary," local website cqnews.net quoted Bo as saying.

The noise Bo referred to was some people's comments that the crackdown is "a show, or should stop at appropriate time before going too far".

Liu Guanglei, Party secretary of the politics and law committee, and head of a committee of Chongqing's anti-gang operation, also said the crackdown will continue.

Liu said at yesterday's press conference that as China is experiencing social and economic changes, the number of gang-related crimes are expected to remain high.

"We will practice prevention measures and controls to discover gangs at early stage of development and crush organized crime as well as the officials protecting it," he said.

This year's campaign is "a follow-up and enhancement" of a series of similar ones in previous years, and is undertaken according to deployment of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Liu said.

"Since Chongqing became a municipality in 1997, all the Party and government leaders from the past four terms placed social stability as an equally important priority as economic and social development, and had uncompromisingly organized campaigns to crush gangs," he said.

Chongqing has uprooted 300 organized gangs and violent groups between 2001 and 2008, Liu said.

These were followed by the 2009 operation, starting in June, which has seen the arrest of 327 suspects.

Among them, 21 government officials were suspected of accepting bribes from gangs.

Some people fear the "crackdown on gangs would scare investors away," Bo said.

Instead, he said, "without a clean social environment and a rigorously ruled legal system, there won't be vibrant economic development".

Liu said the city's GDP grew 13.4 per cent in the first nine months of this year and the city opens more to the world.

International companies such as HP and Foxconn have built facilities here, he said, indicating the anti-gang operation has not harmed investments in Chongqing.

"Considering the safety of 200 Japanese living in Chongqing, we believe social security is essential to attract foreign investment," said vice-consulate-general of Japan in Chongqing Keisuke Tobari, who was invited to observe yesterday's conference.

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