Photo of a miner walking through a tunnel. Image via Safak TORTU
Prosecutors have indicted a criminal gang which murdered 17 people across six provinces and staged mining accidents in order to claim compensation from their victims’ deaths.
According to Sina, prosecutors from Inner Mongolia have indicted 74 people for charges that include homicide, fraud, swindling and concealing crimes.
The authorities have not released information as to the specifics of the case, but previous cases give us an idea of how the gang operated. Migrant workers are lured into laboring in the coal mine and are killed in a way which makes it look like an mining accident. The criminals then pose as the victim’s family to claim compensation.
In a case from 2013, a group confessed to looking for the mentally disabled as their disappearance rarely raises attention. The following year, a group targeting single men had a female member approach and sleep with the victim so that intimate knowledge of the victim’s appearance could be used to strengthen their claim to be family.
Because the victims’ bodies are usually promptly cremated, authorities are denied the opportunity for forensic analysis that might have otherwise been useful in confirming the identity of those killed.
For fear that their mines might be shut down, companies would rush to cover up the accidents using private settlements. The payout per “accident” ranges from 500,000 yuan ($76,000) to 800,000 yuan ($120,000).
The media is referring to the crime as a real life Blind Shaft, a reference to a Chinese film released in 2003 which featured a plot bearing a discomforting resemblance to these murders. Blind Shaft was based on a real-life criminal operation revealed in 1998 which took the lives of 52. The film is banned in China.
by Victor Fung
[Image via Safak TORTU]