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China blast suspects stand trial

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- The suspects of a string of blasts that killed 108 are standing trial in northern China.

Jin Ruchao appeared in the Shijiazhuang Intermediary People's Court charged with murder, along with three suspected accomplices Tuesday, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The local government prosecutor alleges that "the desperate-minded" Jin blew up dormitory buildings in the industrial city, killing 108 and wounding 38 residents on March 16, motivated by a "personal vendetta". Asia
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Xinhua quoted the prosecutor as saying Jin had "caused grave harm to people's lives and their properties, and severely damaged the social security order".

Jin, who is deaf, allegedly murdered his girlfriend in the southwestern province of Yunan before returning to his hometown to execute the explosions.

The dormitories housed Jin's stepmother, his estranged wife, her husband and parents, and his sister, according to the state-run People's Daily newspaper.

Villagers Wang Yushun and Hao Fengqin, who live near the city, are charged with illegal manufacturing and sales of explosives to Jin.

The pair have been accused of making more than 10 tons of explosives in an abandoned cement factory and selling some to Jin.

Another villager, Hu Xiaohong, is alleged to have sold Jin 50 detonators and 20 fuses for 33 yuan (about US$4).

Reward offered

In China's biggest manhunt in 18 years with a reward on Jin's head, police picked him up in the southern resort city of Beihai in late March, just one week after the blasts.

Police rounded up the three suspected accomplices shortly afterwards.

Days after Jin's arrest, People's Daily published a detailed and graphic confession by Jin along with photos of his arrest and interrogation, his divorce papers and his sister's report to police.

Jin confessed to police that he had carried bags of explosives in taxis and set off all the blasts in separate locations in the city.

The explosions went off almost simultaneously, with a mere 15-minute break between each one, according to People's Daily.

Xinhua reported that members of the local People's Congress and dozens of family members of the blast victims attended the court hearing on Tuesday.

Rumors around the city, however, suggest laid-off workers may be responsible for the explosions.

The city, a textile industry center, is full of unemployed residents who became victims of a massive restructuring of the textile sector.

Some also suspect the blasts were linked to feuding gangsters or corrupt officials.


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