By Michael Evans
A Henan government worker who kept six women captive as sex slaves has been sentenced to death by a Luoyang court.
Li Hao, 35, was convicted on charges of murder, rape, organized prostitution, illegal detention, and selling pornography.
Li had kept the women, aged between 16 and 24, confined in a two-room, 30 square meter cellar he had dug himself underneath a rented basement.
Li repeatedly raped the women, forced them to appear in pornographic web shows from March to April 2011 and made them have sex with customers for a brief period last year, the court heard.
Three of the women were also found guilty of murder over the killings of two of their fellow captives, Xinhua reported.
However, the court was lenient in its judgment of the women because of the circumstances in which they were held, finding they acted under instruction, and in one case coercion, from Li. One of the women was sentenced to three years in prison and the other two were placed on probation.
The New York Times reported last year that Li “kept his captives perpetually starved so they would have little energy for escape, but he also gave them two computers on which they could ‘kill time’ by watching movies and playing games.”
Li was arrested in September 2011 after one of his victims escaped and alerted police. However local authorities kept the story under wraps for over two weeks, fearful that the story would derail Luoyang’s bid to win the coveted designation as a “Civilized City.”
A journalist from Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis Daily who exposed the story was briefly detained by security agents, who accused him of revealing state secrets.
Luoyang police later apologized for their failure to rescue the captive women sooner, with the director of the city’s Public Security Bureau telling reporters that law enforcement officers had “lost their sense of responsibility,” according to CNN.
(see more photos of Li’s “sex dungeon” and the women he kept prisoner here)