AKIPRESS.COM - Police in the coal-rich northern region of Inner Mongolia have unraveled a string of crimes, where 17 miners were allegedly killed by their colleagues who then pretended to be their close kin to claim compensation for the deaths that were made to appear as mine accidents, reports Caixin.
Bayannur Intermediate People's Procuratorate in Inner Mongolia, a regional court, said it has charged 74 suspects with murder, fraud and blackmail linked to the deaths. The local prosecutor's office made the announcement on May 31. The office, however, did not say when these crimes were committed or how much money the accused had taken from mine owners.
A person who was briefed about the case told Caixin that the alleged killings came to light in January 2015 when police from a district under the city of Bayannur was investigating a mining accident. Officers found that some of the victims, who coworkers claimed had perished in the disaster, were actually alive.
Police uncovered the 17 alleged murders in a follow-up investigation that lasted for over a year, the source said.
Each of the 74 suspects was either involved in plotting the murders, recruiting victims or acting as their close kin to swindle compensation money, said the source. Mine owners were blackmailed into settling quickly, because they often ran unlicensed operations, the source with knowledge of the matter said.
Most of the suspects were farmers in their 40s from Zhaotong, a city in the southwestern province of Yunnan, the source said.
The organized gang had murdered far more people, but prosecutors could only charge them with the killings of 17 because the group had cremated the bodies of victims and discarded their ashes making DNA tests impossible, the source said.
The suspects will face trial October.