Farmer may be charged over death of duck thief

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By HUMEIDONG in Fuzhou humeidong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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