Death penal­ties re­versed in forced-pros­ti­tu­tion case TIME­LINE

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s top court ruled against giv­ing the death penalty on Thurs­day to two men con­victed of forc­ing a girl into pros­ti­tu­tion, a move hailed by law ex­perts and judges.

In de­fense of their rul­ing, the Supreme People’s Court said the al­leged ac­tions by Qin Xing and Zhou Jun­hui to force a then 11-year-old girl into pros­ti­tu­tion in Yongzhou, Hu­nan prov­ince, did not con­sti­tute “the most se­ri­ous” crime un­der the cur­rent Chi­nese Crim­i­nal Law.

Qin and Zhou are cur­rently in de­ten­tion on charges of kid­nap­ping, rap­ing and forc­ing the girl, iden­ti­fied un­der the alias Le Le, to en­gage in pros­ti­tu­tion more than 100 times from Oc­to­ber un­til De­cem­ber 2006.

The Supreme Court did not ad­dress the other charges in the rul­ing. In a state­ment, the top court said the death penalty was un­rea­son­able be­cause there is pos­si­ble new ev­i­dence in the case from Qin.

The case has been re­manded to the Hu­nan High People’s Court for re­trial, and the top court said the new ev­i­dence will fac­tor into the re­trial.

The de­ci­sion to re­frain from us­ing the death penalty quickly stirred con­tro­versy af­ter the top court pub­lished the rul­ing on its mi­cro blog. Ne­ti­zens ques­tioned what crimes could be la­beled “the most se­ri­ous”.

The top court said the most se­ri­ous crimes ac­cord­ing to the law are those in which a per­son who is pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for a crim­i­nal of­fense forces sev­eral girls into

Tang Hui’s daugh­ter, 11, is kid­napped, raped and forced into pros­ti­tu­tion in Yongzhou, Hu­nan prov­ince.

Tang Hui and two rel­a­tives res­cue her daugh­ter.

Yongzhou po­lice take the case, and seven de­fen­dants, in­clud­ing Qin Xing and Zhou Jun­hui, are in­ves­ti­gated.

Yongzhou Intermediate People’s Court sen­tences the seven de­fen­dants. Qin and Zhou re­ceive the death penalty. The other five get sen­tences of life, 15 years and 16 years. Tang lodges a protest against the court’s rul­ing, say­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion of the law was wrong and the sen­tences were too light.

The intermediate people’s court re­hears the case af­ter the coun­ter­ap­peal and up­holds it orig­i­nal rul­ing. But the provin­cial high people’s court found the ev­i­dence in­suf­fi­cient and re­manded the case.

The high people’s pros­ti­tu­tion, forces them into pros­ti­tu­tion in pub­lic mul­ti­ple times af­ter de­tain­ing and kid­nap­ping them, or whose co­er­cion is so bru­tal it hand­i­caps or kills the vic­tims.

A Bei­jing judge sur­named Wu agreed with the court’s de­ci­sion and said the se­ri­ous­ness of a crime is viewed dif­fer­ently by the pub­lic. “Ver­dicts of each court can­not be af­fected by pub­lic opin­ion. We must re­spect the law,” said Wu, who de­clined to give his full name.

Wu said that ac­cord­ing to court gives Qin and Zhou the death penalty, and the other five are sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment and 15 years. Tang continues pe­ti­tion­ing, as she be­lieves some people re­spon­si­ble for the in­ci­dent have gone un­pun­ished.

The Yongzhou com­mis­sion sen­tences Tang to 18 months in la­bor camp for “dis­rupt­ing so­cial or­der”. She is re­leased nine days later fol­low­ing pub­lic ou­trage.

Tang ap­plies for State com­pen­sa­tion for the “er­ro­neous” lao­jiao de­ci­sion, but the Yongzhou lao­jiao author­ity turns her down.

Tang takes her case to the intermediate court in Yongzhou, seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion from the lo­cal lao­jiao author­ity. The na­tional po­lit­i­cal and le­gal work con­fer­ence, con­vened in Bei­jing, pledges to push for­ward re­form of the lao­jiao sys­tem.

Tang wins the lao­jiao case, get­ting 2,641 yuan ($425) in com­pen­sa­tion. the crim­i­nal law, people who force oth­ers into pros­ti­tu­tion of­ten face sen­tences of five to 10 years. He also said Qin and Zhou will not face the death penalty af­ter the re­trial be­cause of the top court’s rul­ing.

Cheng Lei, an as­so­ciate law pro­fes­sor at Ren­min Univer­sity of China, said the top court’s rul­ing re­flects its pru­dence in deal­ing with the death penalty.

“It’s nec­es­sary to strictly con­trol the death penalty in our coun­try, and I’m glad to see the top court en­forces it well,” Cheng said. “It also shows our law’s prin­ci­ple of tem­per­ing jus­tice with mercy.”

The case drew pub­lic at­ten­tion af­ter Tang Hui, Le Le’s mother, wrote a blog post in 2010 that seven de­fen­dants, in­clud­ing Qin and Zhou, kid­napped, raped and forced her daugh­ter into pros­ti­tu­tion, caus­ing the girl phys­i­cal harm and men­tal an­guish.

“The dam­age to my child caused by Qin and Zhou was more than killing a man. Their pun­ish­ment should be much more se­vere,” Tang said af­ter the top court’s rul­ing.

“My life’s fo­cus re­turned to my busi­ness and fam­ily last year, but now I have to start a new pe­ti­tion for the case.”

Tang was sen­tenced to 18 months of re-ed­u­ca­tion through la­bor for her re­peated pe­ti­tions in 2012. She was re­leased af­ter nine days be­cause of pub­lic ou­trage over the sen­tence. She then sued the Yongzhou lao­jiao com­mis­sion and in 2013, re­ceived 1,641 yuan ($267) in com­pen­sa­tion for the com­mis­sion’s “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” de­ci­sion to put her in a la­bor camp. She was also awarded 1,000 yuan in com­pen­sa­tion her for “men­tal in­jury”.

Wang Zhix­i­ang, a crim­i­nal law pro­fes­sor at Bei­jing Nor­mal Univer­sity, said sen­tenc­ing a per­son to death de­pends on the law, not on a vic­tim’s pe­ti­tions.

“Tang’s love for her daugh­ter can be un­der­stood, but if a ver­dict is af­fected by pe­ti­tion­ing, the law’s cred­i­bil­ity and se­ri­ous­ness will be noth­ing,” he said. Feng Zhi­wei in Chang­sha con­trib­uted to this story.

FENG YUANZHI / FOR CHINA DAILY

The case of Tang Hui, who was put into the now-de­funct “reed­u­ca­tion through la­bor” sys­tem for pe­ti­tion­ing for harsher sen­tences for two men who raped her daugh­ter, helped bring about the abol­ish­ment of the sys­tem late last year.

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