Mentally disabled murdered in China’s coal mines
Mentally disabled Chinese peasants are being kidnapped and made to work in illegal mines, before being murdered in fake accidents for compensation money. Nine people were arrested on Thursday for their part in the scheme, which has so far resulted in the murder of at least 17 people across the country, according to police in south-western Sichuan province. Dozens more victims have been rescued by the authorities.
The deadly scam is reminiscent of the plot of the acclaimed 2003 Chinese film Blind Shaft, in which two miners travel northern China persuading naive migrant workers to work alongside them. They then kill them, making their deaths look like accidents, and extort money from the mine owners by threatening to reveal that their pits are unlicensed and operating illegally.
In one case in November, a miner from Leibo County in Sichuan died in an apparent accident two days after starting work in a mine in central Hubei province. Five days later three people claiming to be his relatives arrived and demanded 200,000 Yuan (£18,200) in compensation for his death.
Only later did it emerge that the dead miner was working under a false name.
Subsequent investigations revealed that villagers from Leibo County were being kidnapped and put to work in mines across China, before being killed so that their so-called relatives could claim compensation.
Leibo County police believe at least 17 people have been murdered in mines in nine different provinces since 2007. “All the cases involved unidentified victims who suffered from a mental disability,” a police officer told local media.