Mekong Drug Traffickers Sentenced To Death For Killing Chinese Sailors

A Chinese court on Tuesday sentenced drug trafficker Naw Kham from Myanmar and three of his associates to death for murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year.

Two other members of the Naw Kham gang were awarded capital punishment with reprieve and eight years in prison by the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming in south-west China's Yunnan province.

The six convicts faced charges of intentional homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping and hijacking or a combination of those criminal offenses, and were also ordered to pay fines totaling six million yuan (about $960,000) They said they would appeal the verdict, Chinese state media reported.

Naw Kham and his gang members were found to have masterminded and colluded with Thai soldiers in an attack on two Chinese cargo ships in October, 2011 on the Mekong River, the court said in an investigative report.

Under Naw Kham's instructions, several of his subordinates were also found to have kidnapped Chinese sailors and hijacked cargo ships in exchange for ransom in early April 2011, according to the report.

The crime ring was busted earlier this year in a joint operation carried out by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand after the brutal murders triggered an outcry in China last year.

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