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Murders in the Mines

On 12 April, six men from poor villages in Shaanxi province were executed in northern China for faking premeditated murders as industrial accidents in order to pocket millions of yuan in compensation. Between 2007 and 2014, the six criminals, ranging in age from 22 to 47, murdered 11 mine workers in Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces, cheating a combined 3.1 million yuan in compensation out of the mine owners by disguising themselves as the victims’ families. The victims were all cash-strapped rural migrant workers who had been enticed into working in mines by the six criminals and agreed to use the identity cards of the criminals’ relatives to apply for jobs. Reminiscent of the plot of the award-winning Chinese movie Blind Shaft, such grisly crimes have repeatedly occurred in China over the last two decades. In December 2007, five miners in Hunan province were detained for murdering their coworkers and swindling hush money from the pit owners. In 2014, a court in Hebei province sentenced five criminals to death and 16 others to prison for similar charges. In 2016, 74 people were prosecuted in Inner Mongolia for the killing of 17 people whose corpses were used to forge mining accidents and extort compensation from the mine owners. In the same year, a court in Beijing handed down suspended death sentences to two felons who committed similar offences. Observers consider extreme poverty in remote villages in China as being the underlying reason for mine murders, while loopholes in regulations on safety in mines are regarded as a facilitating factor. NLiu

(Sources: Caixin Global; Reuters; South China Morning Post; The Atlantic; The New York Times)

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