Four on trial for bomb blasts that killed 108

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The Independent Online

Four men have gone on trial in China charged with a string of bombings that killed 108 people and could face a death sentence if convicted.

Four men have gone on trial in China charged with a string of bombings that killed 108 people and could face a death sentence if convicted.

The trial began yesterday, said an official at the Intermediate People's Court of Shijiazhuang who gave only her surname, Liu.

Jin Ruchao has admitted setting off the explosions March 16 that destroyed or damaged four apartment blocks, state media say. Shijiazhuang is a major industrial center 170 miles southwest of Beijing.

Three others are charged with supplying explosives and detonators. They were detained in a raid on explosives manufacturers in the region following the bombings.

Wang Yushun and Hao Fengqin are charged with selling Jin ammonia nitrate, an explosive, the official China Daily newspaper said Wednesday. It said Hu Xiaohong is accused of selling Jin 50 detonators and 20 paper fuses.

All four men face a possible death sentence if convicted, Liu said.

Jin was arrested a week after the bombings. In testimony shown on national television, he said he acted alone and was trying to take revenge against relatives, his ex–wife and others with whom he had feuded.

The explosions struck within about an hour. Most of the deaths occurred at the city's Number Three Cotton Mill, where a five–story building housing 48 families was reduced to rubble. The three other buildings suffered less damage.

Explosives are readily available in China and frequently used in crimes instead of guns, which are tightly controlled. Following the bombings, Beijing announced a crackdown on explosive sales.

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