On Tuesday, 4 June, former chairman of Tianyuan Flour Products in Weishi county, China, was executed after being found guilty of raping 25 underage girls on 32 occasions over a two-year period
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that all of the victims were minors, with 14 of them under the age of 14. They all were from four middle schools in Weishi county.
The Kaifeng Intermediate People's Court posted a notice about the sentence, stating that the businessman, Zhao Zhiyong, was executed in central China's Henan Province.
"On 4 June 2019, in accordance with the execution penalty order issued by the Supreme People's Court, the Kaifeng City Intermediate People's Court executed the death penalty against the rape criminal Zhao Zhiyong," the court said in the notice.
According to the court, Zhao coerced a woman named Li Na into finding young girls for him between May 2015 and January 2017
In the space of one and a half years, the accomplice Li Na brought underage girls to hotels or Zhao's home for him to have sexual intercourse with by force.
"From May 2015 to January 2017, the criminal Zhao Zhiyong and the criminal Li Na colluded with others to bring 25 underage girls to the hotel or Zhao Zhiyong's residence, and Zhao Zhiyong committed adultery," the court said in its online notice.
According to SCMP, some of Zhao's victims too went on to recruit more girls for him.
A Mail Online report said that Li would not only look for "young female pupils" from middle schools in the county of Weishi for Zhao to have sex with, she would also beat them, intimidate them and take photos of their private parts as threats.
The businessman was said to be an influential individual in Kaifeng and was a representative of the Kaifeng People's Congress
According to Chinese news outlet The Paper, Zhao owned a large flour factory and was the deputy head of the Kaifeng Chamber of Commerce.
The case only came to public attention in April 2017 after a police brief was leaked online, in which sketchy details of the offences was provided.
Zhao stood trial in October 2018 in the Kaifeng court where he was sentenced to death.
In China's criminal code, sex with girls younger than 14 is regarded as rape, with punishment ranging from 10 years in jail to the death penalty.
While Zhao was executed, Li received a suspended death sentence
Li's husband Liu Hongyang – who chauffeured the young girls for prostitution and raped some of them – was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, SCMP reported.