TAIYUAN, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- A coal mine owner
suspected of ordering a gang of thugs to beat up a newspaper employee, which led
to his death, has been arrested in north China, a local government source said
Hou Zhenrun, owner of an illegal
coal mine in Shanxi Province, handed himself over to the police late on Friday
night, Gu Shengming, a spokesman with Datong city government told Xinhua.
Hou allegedly gathered eight people to carry out the
assault on Lan Chengzhang, and his colleague Chang Hanwen, two employees of the
China Trade News, when the two men attempted to investigate Hou's illegal mine
in Hunyuan County on January 10.
Lan died of a brain haemorrhage the next morning in
hospital. Chang suffered a broken right arm and minor injuries in the attack.
However, the head of the newspaper's Shanxi office
said the two, who were employed to collect clues for the paper, were not
authorized to conduct reporting missions and their investigation on the coal
mine was only "personal behavior".
Lan had an employee's card issued by the
Beijing-based newspaper, according to the head of the paper's Shanxi office.
However, only a press card issued by the State Press
and Publication Administration can serve as a valid certificate of a
According to the police, Lan told Chang en route to
the coal mine that the mine owner could "at least give us 1,000 yuan (128 U.S
dollars) once we show him our identity."
Lan found a doorman of the mine Zhang Gengen and told
him they wanted to talk with the mine boss about the mine's operation as they
had received reports the mine was run illegally.
Zhang gave the telephone number of Hou who was then
in Dadong City. Hou asked Lan on the phone to go to Datong to talk but Zhang
insisted on waiting for Hou at the mine.
At 4 p.m., Hou took eight people to the mine and
asked them to assault on Lan and Chang.
Hou and the eight fled the scene after the beating.
Police are also questioning three people out of the
group of eight suspected of carrying out the beatings. The men are Zheng Wenping
and Ma Li, both unemployed from Nanjiao District of Datong City, and Zheng
Hongrui, a native of Hunyuan County.