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4 Sentenced for Blasts in China That Killed 108

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Chinese court Wednesday sentenced four people to death for their roles in explosions that killed at least 108 people in a northern provincial capital last month, state media reported.

Jin Ruchao, a resident of Shijiazhuang, confessed to illegally buying about 1,300 pounds of homemade explosives and numerous detonators, the official New China News Agency reported. Jin told the court that he planted the explosives at four worker dormitories whose residents included his stepmother, sister, ex-wife, former in-laws and himself, the agency reported.

Jin said he detonated the explosives a site at a time, taking taxis from one target to the next.

The three other defendants were sentenced for selling Jin the explosives and detonators. All four plan to appeal the verdicts handed down by Shijiazhuang Intermediate Court, according to Jin’s lawyer, Zou Qianglun.

Relatives of those killed in the March 16 blasts attended the trial of Jin, who is partially deaf and wore a hearing aid in court, the Shijiazhuang Daily reported.

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Jin, 40, fled to the southern coastal resort of Beihai after the explosions. He was picked up after a weeklong, nationwide manhunt that included the offer of an $18,000 reward. Jin reportedly was captured after hitching a ride on the motorcycle of an off-duty Beihai prison worker.

Officials in Shijiazhuang said the blasts killed 108 people and injured 38, although some residents believe that the toll was higher. The city, about 170 miles southwest of Beijing, is the capital of Hebei province.

Residents had initially suspected that either feuding gangsters or angry workers laid off from Shijiazhuang’s struggling cotton mills were responsible for the blasts. But Jin told the court that he acted alone, motivated by personal grudges.

Jin also admitted to killing a former lover in Yunnan province a week before the blasts. He had previously served part of a 10-year sentence after being convicted of rape.

The bombings drew attention to the easy availability of illegal explosives in China and raised the specter that Beijing might be vulnerable to similar crimes.

Since the blasts, 214 people in Hebei province have been detained and 15 of them arrested for possession of illegal explosives.


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