China court upholds mining tycoon's death sentence
File photo taken on March 31, 2014 shows police standing guard outside the Xianning Intermediate People's Court where Chinese mining tycoon Liu Han is standing trial
Liu Han, his brother Liu Wei and three accomplices appealed to the high court in the central province of Hubei after they were condemned to death in May for "organising and leading a mafia-style group", murder and other crimes.
The court on Thursday rejected the appeal, it said in a posting on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.
"The crimes of organising and leading a mafia-style group and murder Liu Han and Liu Wei committed were extremely serious and a punishment should be meted out to several offences combined," it said.
The court "upholds... the death sentences handed down to Liu Han and Liu Wei respectively," it continued.
Liu Han led private company Hanlong, which is based in the southwestern province of Sichuan and once launched a billion-dollar bid for an Australian firm.
Sichuan is one of the power bases of Zhou, who once enjoyed vast power as China's security chief but was announced last week to be under investigation for corruption.
The influential business magazine Caixin has reported that Liu Han once had dealings with a businessman believed to be Zhou's son. State media have also hinted that the gang had connections to central government officials.
With the official announcement of the long-rumoured probe, Zhou became the most senior member of the Communist Party to be investigated since the infamous Gang of Four -- a faction that included the widow of founding leader Mao Zedong -- were put on trial in 1980.
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