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April 20, 2004

Gang of Deaf Thieves Jailed

From: The Retriever Weekly - Apr 20, 2004

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police have broken up a gang of deaf teenaged robbers who carried out a string of thefts on the orders of a brutal leader.

Leader Yang Song and 11 gang members were sent to prison for term ranging from 11 months to 13 years, Xinhua news agency said Monday.

Yang, 34, formed the gang in 2001 in Shaoxing, in the affluent southeastern coastal province of Zhejiang. Most of the members, who robbed scores of shops, were jobless and homeless youngsters.

Yang regularly beat members of his gang, or burned them with cigarettes. He even made them do headstands for up to three hours, Xinhua said.

Handicapped people suffer widespread discrimination in China and are often shunned by employers and offered little in the way of special education, particularly in the poor countryside.

The Intermediate People's Court of Shaoxing showed leniency in its punishments because the defendants were disabled and confessed to their crimes, Xinhua quoted court officials as saying.

A specially appointed interpreter took half and hour to explain the 37-page judgment in court, it said.

For decades, China put deaf and disabled people to work doing menial jobs in subsidized factories but many of the factories have gone bankrupt with the decline of the state sector.

© 1999 UMBC Student Media.