On the heels of the recent forced-eviction protests in front of Shanghai’s Portman Ritz-Carlton comes news that two city real estate agents were sentenced to death for torching the homes of residents who refused to abandon their neighborhoods in 2004 and 2005. One of the acts of arson killed an elderly couple back in January.
Wang Changkun and Yang Sunqin of the Shanghai Urban Development Housing Relocation Co Ltd were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve by a Shanghai Intermediate Court on Tuesday, the China Daily reported.
The reprieve likely means that the two will serve out life sentences instead.
An accomplice was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the arson that killed a 70-year old couple on January 9, the paper said. The fire was set in the middle of the night near Shanghai’s Urumqi Road.
The neighborhood has been victimized by 12 arson attacks since 2004, with police finding evidence that at least five of the fires were set by the relocation company, the report said.
Yang was the deputy manager of the company and owned a 10-percent stake in the enterprise, which was 50 percent owned by the state firm Shanghai Urban Development Group.
State land requisitions have become one of China’s sharpest social issues, with an increasing number of evicted people in urban and rural areas accusing governments of illegal land grabs they say are enriching the ruling elite.