Sat, Aug 27, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Realtors get death for torching homes

BURNING ISSUE Faced with residents who didn't want to move the two came up with a simple solution, raze their homes -- business methods in today's China

AFP , SHANGHAI

Chinese residents have dinner surrounded by the demolished remains of their former homes in Changchun, in northeast China's Jilin province, on Wednesday. Local authorities razed parts of houses which they claimed were illegally built extensions. Chinese residents in rapidly developing cities often find themselves in a stand off with hostile land developers and corrupt authorities seeking a quick profit from buying over their land for commercial development.

PHOTO: AP

Two real estate agents were sentenced to death in Shanghai for torching the homes of uncooperative residents who refused to relocate for a development project, Chinese state press said Friday.

Wang Changkun and Yang Sunqin of the Shanghai Urban Development Housing Relocation Co Ltd were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve by a Shanghai Intermediate Court on Tuesday, the China Daily reported.

The reprieve likely means that the two will serve out life sentences instead.

An accomplice was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the arson that killed a 70-year old couple on January 9, the paper said. The fire was set in the middle of the night near Shanghai's Urumqi Road.

The neighborhood has been victimized by 12 arson attacks since 2004, with police finding evidence that at least five of the fires were set by the relocation company, the report said.

Yang was the deputy manager of the company and owned a 10-percent stake in the enterprise, which was 50 percent owned by the state firm Shanghai Urban Development Group.

State land requisitions have become one of China's sharpest social issues, with an increasing number of evicted people in urban and rural areas accusing governments of illegal land grabs they say are enriching the ruling elite.

In China, all land is owned by the state, giving local officials wide powers over land-use rights.

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