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China court upholds death sentence for billionaire

07-15-2010 09:18 BJT

HARBIN, July 14 (Xinhua) -- A court in northeast China Wednesday upheld a death sentence for a billionaire who hired two people to murder a former business partner.

In a statement, the Heilongjiang Provincial Higher People's Court said it rejected the appeal of Wang Wenxiang, founder and chairman of Xinheng Group, his secretary Bai Peng and migrant worker Yu Yi as the verdict at the first-instance trial was based on sufficient evidence.

Wang, 50, was convicted of having contracted the killing to Bai and Yu on Dec. 18 last year. Bai was also sentenced to death and Yu was given a death sentence with a two-year reprieve over charges of murder and theft.

The three were ordered to pay 340,000 yuan (50,180 U.S. dollars) in compensation to the family of victim Zhong Yishi, who ran a construction company that began doing business with Wang in 1999.

Wang and Zhong fell out over defaulted payments for a project that ended up in court in 2004. Wang's company was ordered to pay 10.4 million yuan to Zhong in compensation.

In December 2008, Zhong brought another lawsuit against Wang regarding ownership of a property, which motivated Wang to plan the kidnapping and murder.

Bai and Yu were caught on videotape strangling Zhong to death in an underground car park on May 18 last year. They then drove the corpse to an abandoned brick kiln, where they took 4,000 yuan from the body before burning it.

Wang was a member of the standing committee of Heilongjiang Provincial People's Political Consultative Conference. The privately-run Xinheng Group is involved in a range of businesses, including real estate, power, wholesale and retail, and has fixed assets valued at more than 1 billion yuan.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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