Friday, December 12, 2003

Dateline: China

The highlights:
Execution for China serial killer
BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- A Chinese migrant worker has been sentenced to death for luring 17 teenage boys to his home and murdering them because he wanted to feel the thrill of being an assassin, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Huang Yong, 29, who kept his victims' belts as souvenirs, was the second Chinese serial killer to be sentenced to death this month.

Pingyu county court in central Henan heard that Huang tied the youths to what he called the "intelligent hobbyhorse" -- a noodle-processing contraption -- and suffocated them with a piece of cloth, Xinhua said. It did not elaborate.

Security was tight in and around the Pingyu county court building in central Henan, China's most populous province.

Police held back the members of the victims' families as a grinning Huang arrived escorted by two officers. He wore handcuffs and a prison vest with the number 99.

Bereaved family members repeatedly disrupted court proceedings hurling insults at Huang who spoke softly, the Web arm of Xinhua,, reported.

"I've always wanted to be an assassin since I was a kid, but I never had the chance," said Huang, who, according to Xinhua, had been "affected by films and TV dramas with violent themes."

In September 2001, Huang started to lure young people, mostly from rural areas, from video halls, Internet cafes and video game rooms to his house by offering to recommend them for well-paid jobs or to fund their schooling or sightseeing tours.

The father of Huang's first victim, Lu Ningbo, told Xinhuanet: "Huang Yong is a tumor in society. Even handing down the death sentence will not appease family members."

Huang told the court he did not pick female victims because it would make him less of a "hero." And elderly men were too vigilant, he added.

Huang, who was arrested only last month, worked as a migrant laborer in southern China after a tour of duty in the army.

Huang killed 17 boys and buried them, but kept their belts as souvenirs, Xinhua said.

His 18th potential victim escaped with wounds and reported him to police.

While official violent crime figures are unavailable, China is no stranger to mass killings. Last week, authorities arrested a man accused of killing 65 people.

A court in the southeastern city of Wenzhou sentenced Chen Yongfeng, 20, a rubbish recycler, to death on December 5 for robbing and killing 10 competitors in a three-month murder spree, the semi-official China News Service reported.

Last year, a man killed at least 42 people, many of them children, by slipping rat poison into food at a rival's shop in the eastern city of Nanjing.