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China condems two more to death

BEIJING, Feb 4 – A Chinese court sentenced two convicted mafia figures to death on Thursday in the latest verdicts handed down in a series of trials exposing rapacious mobsters and official collusion.

Chen Mingliang, dubbed by the media as the "richest godfather" in Chongqing, and fellow mobster Zhou Yong were among 33 people sentenced in trials that have gripped the huge southwestern city, a government news website said.

The verdicts bring the number of people reported to have been executed or sentenced to death over the Chongqing mob trials to at least nine.

Chongqing\\\’s former top justice official Wen Qiang went on trial on Tuesday for corruption, protecting gangs and multiple rape in a case that represents the climax of the offensive against the mobs.

Wen, who also was Chongqing\\\’s former deputy police chief, is the highest-ranking figure ensnared in a huge crackdown launched last year and which has seen hundreds of gangsters, police and others prosecuted.

The charges against Chen, Zhou and several others included running criminal gangs engaged in prostitution, illegal gambling, drug-dealing, bribery, and assault, according to Hualongnet, a news website run by Chongqing\\\’s government.

Two others received death sentences with a reprieve, which is normally commuted to life in prison, while another received a life prison term and the rest received jail terms of varying lengths.

The trials, which first opened late last year, have shocked the public by exposing the impunity enjoyed by mafia kingpins as they terrorised Chongqing and lived debauched lifestyles.

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The case of Wen, in particular, has sparked outrage. Wen, 54, has been charged with accepting more than two million dollars in bribes to allow the mob rings to flourish, as well as several counts of rape, according to court statements.

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