Farmer may be charged over death of duck thief
Prosecutors are reviewing whether to charge a duck farmer with negligent homicide after a poultry thief he was chasing fell and died of his injuries.
According to a statement published on Wednesday by the Zhangpu county procuratorate in Fujian province, the farmer, identified only as Lan, was alerted to the thief’s presence by the sound of ducks quacking at about 4 am onMarch 19.
Lan, 51, gave chase to the thief, a 57-year-old surnamed Chen, and got close enough to pull on his left sleeve.
Chen tried to wriggle free, but slipped on a patch of wet ground and fell, hitting his head on the concrete and suffering a traumatic brain injury, the statement said. He was sent to a hospital, but died the next morning.
On March 29, police asked the local procuratorate to issue an arrestwarrantforLanonthecharge of negligent homicide, but were refused. The prosecuting authority said the facts of the case were unclear and there was not enough evidence to support such a charge.
However, last month, the police asked the county procuratorate to reviewthe case.
The county procuratorate saidon Wednesday that it had not reached a decision on whether to charge Lan, adding that a decision will be announced within 45 days.
Meanwhile, local media have reported that Lan had tried to save Chen.
“It was raining heavily and the temperature was cold,” Lan’s wife was quoted as saying by Beijing Youth Daily. “I even asked my husband to help him up, and I held an umbrella forhimafterhefelldown.”
It was also reported that Chen had twice been detained by police in December last year for stealing poultry, andthat a bikehehadbeen using was found abandoned near Lan’s home next to a yellow plastic sack that had four chickens inside.
Hong Daode, a professor at China University of Political Science andLaw, said that judgingfromthe details available, Lan’s actions did not amount to negligent homicide.
“Chen’s death was unforeseeable. There is no evidence showing that Lan deliberately made Chen fall,” he said.
Xu Lanting, a criminal lawyer in Beijing, said, “As far as I can see, the present evidence is insufficient for a charge of negligent homicide, because it’s hard to prove Lan had foreseen Chen’s death.”
According to Chinese Criminal law, the charge of negligent homicide carries a maximum prison term of seven years. Li Lei contributed to this story.