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Tibet sisters jailed over Dickensian child gang

November 22, 2007

Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:15pm IST

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has sentenced two Tibetan sisters to 
lengthy jail terms for running a crime gang that forced a dozen 
children to beg or steal and kept them in line with brutality, the 
Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

The women and 14 relatives from Xigaze in the Buddhist Himalayan 
region forced more than 10 children to beg and steal for them over 
many years, Xinhua said of a saga which makes Charles Dickens' Fagin, 
who in "Oliver Twist" ran a gang of child pickpockets in 19th century 
London, look tame by comparison.

The gang locked the children in guarded rooms at night and divided 
them into several groups, each of which had to make between 100 yuan 
($13.50) and 300 yuan from begging or theft a day, it added.

"The sisters and their husbands exercised brutal violence, such as 
scorchings with hot cooking oil and beatings for those who tried to 
escape, failed to meet the quotas or refused to steal," Xinhua said.

Baiqu, Wangmu and other gang members were arrested in the Tibetan 
capital Lhasa in March and police confiscated half a million yuan of 
illegal gains, Xinhua said.

Convicted of theft, mayhem and organising minors to beg the sisters 
were jailed for 20 and 19 years respectively. Their co-defendants 
were jailed for between two and 17 years.
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