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Duncan Hewitt reports for the BBC
"The case caused shockwaves in Asian shipping circles"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 22 December, 1999, 16:55 GMT
Chinese pirates sentenced to death

Prime Minister Zhu Rongji Prime Minister Zhu Rongji has ordered a crack down on piracy


Thirteen men have been sentenced to death by a court in China in the country's biggest piracy case for 50 years.

The men, 12 Chinese and one Indonesian, were found guilty of hijacking the Hong Kong-based "Changsheng" cargo ship a year ago and murdering 23 of its crew.

The defendants were among a gang of pirates who posed as Chinese anti-smuggling police. They handcuffed and blindfolded the sailors before beating them to death with clubs and throwing their bodies overboard.

The Intermediate People's Court, in the southern province of Guangdong, jailed the other members of the gang.

One was sentenced to life, 17 to shorter jail terms. Six others were set free after they provided evidence against their co-defendants.

Sentences welcomed

Piracy expert Captain Jayant Abhyanker said the hijacking was one of the most vicious of the 202 maritime attacks reported worldwide in 1998.


Hong Kong The hijacked ship was Hong Kong based
Arthur Bowring, director of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, welcomed the sentences.

"The shipping community in the world will applaud this. The major difference in this case is China has been very transparent about this case," he said.

" The more the world learns about these cases, the more unlikely the wrong label will be placed on countries."

Corrupt officials

The sentences came against a background of international criticism of China for not doing enough to tackle sea piracy.

China's reputation for protecting its waters has also been undermined by the involvement of officials in smuggling and ship robberies.

But Mr Bowring said a crackdown ordered by Prime Minister Zhu Rongji has significanly reduced the number of hijackings in Chinese waters

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See also:
05 Aug 99 |  Asia-Pacific
China arrests alleged Burmese pirates
05 Mar 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese police arrest pirates
03 Feb 99 |  Asia-Pacific
'China letting pirates go free'
03 Feb 99 |  Asia-Pacific
South East Asia: piracy hot-spot

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