A Chinese court sentenced Liu Han to death on Friday for a string of murders that he and his mafia-style crime ring committed as they sought to protect their business interests.
The Xianning Intermediate People\’s Court in central Hubei province announced on Friday that Liu Han and his younger brother Liu Wei were guilty of organizing and leading a 36-member "mafia-style" group. The court said the group was responsible for the deaths of at least eight people.
The brothers and 34 other defendants were accused of crimes including leading and participating in crimes and intentional homicide.
The group is also thought to have fostered ties with businessmen and senior politicians in Sichuan.
Liu Han\’s sentencing is believed to be part of a wider corruption crackdown linked to Zhou\’s network.
The court verdict stated that, among other things, Liu Han and his group had "in an organised fashion obtained financial gains via illegal activities".
They had also on multiple occasions "committed murder, harm and illegal detention".
The verdict stated they relied on "the cover-ups and collusion of government employees" to illegally control gaming machines in Guanghan in Sichuan province.
Liu, who is the former head of mining conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group, was ranked 148th on Forbes\’ list of the richest Chinese business people in 2012.
His former company once tried to take over Australian miner Sundance Resources Ltd.
China\’s highest-level government official in Xinjiang has called for all forces to be mobilised to find the perpetrators of Thursday\’s deadly attack in the regional capital Urumqui, pledging to "crush the swollen arrogance of terrorists".
Zhang Chunxian\’s remarks were reported by the Xinjiang government on its official news website on Friday, a day after five suspects "blew themselves up" in the attack on an open market, killing 31 people, according to state media.
President Xi pledged on Thursday that those responsible for Thursday\’s attack would be caught and punished.
The Global Times newspaper said police were investigating whether more accomplices were at large after assailants in two vehicles targeted shoppers and traders and threw explosives at a street market in Urumqi.
The attack was described by authorities as the latest "severe terrorist incident" to hit far-western Xinjiang, home to China\’s mainly Muslim Uighur minority.
China has seen a series of incidents in recent months targeting civilians, sometimes far from Xinjiang itself, which authorities have blamed on separatists from the region.