Singers’ son pleads not guilty

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The teenage son of two well­known mil­i­tary singers pleaded not guilty to gang rape on Wed­nes­day, claim­ing he was drunk on the night in ques­tion and did not have sex­ual re­la­tions with the fe­male plain­tiff.

Li Tianyi, the 17- year- old son of Li Shuangjiang and Meng Ge, both prom­i­nent PLA singers, is charged with tak­ing part in the gang-rape of a woman, along with an­other four sus­pects, in a ho­tel af­ter a night of drink­ing in Bei­jing’s Haid­ian dis­trict on Feb 17. He was de­tained on Feb 20, ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ous re­ports.

The case was heard in the dis­trict peo­ple’s court on Wed­nes­day from 9:30 am to 6:45 pm, at­tract­ing many jour­nal­ists.

The woman, 23, was not present at the open­ing day of the trial, which is due to con­tinue on Thurs­day.

The Bei­jing High Peo­ple’s Court said via its mi­cro blog that the first day of the trial fo­cused on col­lect­ing ev­i­dence and hear­ing opin­ions from the de­fen­dants and pros­e­cu­tors.

The case is not a pub­lic hear­ing be­cause it in­volves mi­nors, whose pri­vacy must be pro­tected by law.

Dur­ing the trial, Li was ques­tioned about the al­leged gang rape and said he was sleepy that night be­cause he had been drink­ing, Bei­jing News quoted an in­sider as say­ing on Wed­nes­day.

Nei­ther the court nor the lawyers in­volved con­firmed Li had made that state­ment.

Meng Ge, Li’s mother, ar­rived at the court at 9:10 am, but she did not an­swer any ques­tions.

The high- pro­file case has been hotly de­bated for more than six months and has caused much con­tro­versy.

Bei­jing Haid­ian Dis­trict Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate learned of the case on May 6, but it was only on July 4 that it re­quired the po­lice to make sup­ple­men­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Be­tween May and July, Li’s orig­i­nal lawyer quit the case. The po­lice also re­vealed the par­ents of the other four sus­pects were not from prom­i­nent back­grounds. On July 8, the prose­cut­ing au­thor­ity charged the five sus­pects with rape.

The pub­lic dis­cus­sion did not end with news of the pros­e­cu­tion, as lawyers rep­re­sent­ing both the sus­pects and the woman started re­leas­ing state­ments about the case on­line.

Be­fore Wed­nes­day’s trial, the court held two meet­ings for the par­ties, at which they dis­agreed on whether it was a gang-rape or a case of prostitution.

Li’s mother ap­plied to make the trial a pub­lic hear­ing via her lawyer, Lan He, but the mo­tion was re­fused by the court.

Chen Shu, Li’s new lawyer, in­sisted his client was in­no­cent and cast doubt on the woman’s pro­fes­sion, claim­ing she was a “host­ess”, or pros­ti­tute.

Last week, Tian Can­jun, the woman’s lawyer, said his client is un­der great psy­cho­log­i­cal stress and has been hos­pi­tal­ized in the cap­i­tal, adding she would not par­tic­i­pate in the trial.

Lan said on­line be­fore the trial he hoped the court would iden­tify the woman, “be­cause there are too many say­ing things about her pro­fes­sion and the con­fir­ma­tion of that will be help­ful to clar­ify the facts”.

The sus­pect Li is the sec­ond child of Li Shuangjiang. This case is not his first brush with the law.

At the age of 15, Li and a friend, driv­ing ex­pen­sive cars with­out li­censes, at­tacked a cou­ple that al­legedly stood in their way and scoffed at on­look­ers about call­ing the po­lice. He was sen­tenced to one year in a ju­ve­nile cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity.

WANG JING / CHINA DAILY

The trial of Li Tianyi, son of fa­mous PLA singers Li Shuangjiang and Meng Ge, at­tracts me­dia at­ten­tion in Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day. Li and four other men are ac­cused of gang-rap­ing a woman at a ho­tel in Fe­bru­ary.

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