Chinese court upholds death penalty for 5 people in plot to kill miners and claim compensation

Schemers were able to claim $300,000 in compensation due to lax safety regulation

BEIJING (AP) — A court in eastern China upheld death sentences for five people who conspired to kill miners in what they claimed were mine accidents and then posed as relatives to claim $300,000 in compensation.

The Hebei Higher People's Court delivered the verdict Friday for five defendants who were convicted in August 2014. They were among a group of 21 people in the scheme, which targeted migrant workers and took advantage of lax safety and loose regulation of mines.

Members of the group first hatched the plan in July 2011 when they met a migrant worker from southern China who came to Hebei seeking employment, the China News Service said in a report

Fellow miners killed him while he worked underground at an iron mine in October of that year and then reported a cave-in. Two members of the group posed as his widow and surviving son, in order to claim about $100,000 in compensation.

The group continued the pattern in three other murders through February 2012 until staff at one of the mines became suspicious and reported the incident to police, the report said.

In all, the group had claimed about $300,000 in compensation. The report gave no details of how the murders were carried out or how they were made to look like mine accidents.

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