The former party secretary of Dingzhou, Hebei province, has been sentenced to life in prison for hiring a gang of thugs to beat to death six villagers protesting over inadequate land compensation, the South China Morning Post reported. Four of He Feng's 26 co-defendants were sentenced to death while another five also received life sentences. It is not clear what sentences the other 17 received. The trial at the Intermediate People's Court in Handan came after several hundred armed men set upon 300 farmers in June last year after they refused to surrender 25 hectares of their land to an electronics factory at Shengyou village in Dingzhou. Following the attack, the government decided not to go ahead with the land seizure.