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Chinese Billionaire Mining Tycoon Liu Han Executed over his Links to a ‘Mafia-style’ Gang

Chinese mining magnate Zhou Yongkang, who had been sentenced to death in May 2014 over charges of murder, gun-running and corruption, was reportedly executed by the state on Monday, writes Ben Blanchard.

On Monday Chinese authorities executed a former billionaire mining tycoon connected to the eldest son of retired domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, the man who became the focus of a high-profile corruption investigation, state media reported.

The High People’s Court in the central province of Hubei ordered the execution of Liu Han, the former chairman of unlisted Hanlong Group, who was given the death sentence last May, the official Xinhua news agency said. Last February prosecutors in central China charged Liu with murder, gun-running and other crimes connected with a “mafia-style” gang. Liu’s firm, Hanlong Mining, had earlier tried to take over Australia’s Sundance Resources Ltd,

The case against Liu was one of the most prominent involving a private businessman since President Xi Jinping took office two years ago and began a campaign against pervasive graft. Once ranked as China’s 230th richest person, Liu was tried last year, along with 36 others, accused of murder and running the so-called gang. Liu’s younger brother Liu Wei and three others were also executed, according to Xinhua.

Last year China announced a probe into Zhou Yongkang, one of its most influential politicians of the last decade, in a case that has its roots in a power struggle in the ruling Communist Party. Liu was once a business associate of Zhou’s eldest son Zhou Bin. State media have not explicitly linked Liu’s case to Zhou Yongkang, but reported that his rise coincided with Zhou’s time as Sichuan province’s party boss.

The party has already probed several of Zhou’s proteges, including Jiang Jiemin, who was the top regulator of state-owned enterprises.

China has embarked on legal reforms, including reducing the use of the death penalty, as public discontent mounts over wrongful punishment. Though wrongful executions have often stirred outrage, capital punishment itself has wide support from the public. Anti-death penalty campaigners say China uses the death penalty far more than other countries. The government does not release the number of executions it carries out, deeming it a state secret.