‘Land­mark ver­dict’ for abused Chi­nese wife who faced death sen­tence

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY NEIL CON­NOR

A Chi­nese court on Fri­day com­muted the death sen­tence of a woman who killed her abu­sive hus­band, her lawyer told AFP, with a rights group la­bel­ing the move a “land­mark ver­dict.”

The case of Li Yan, who in 2010 beat to death her hus­band — who had phys­i­cally hurt her and three pre­vi­ous wives — has thrown the spot­light on do­mes­tic abuse, a largely taboo sub­ject in China.

Her case was sent back to a court in China’s south-west­ern Sichuan prov­ince last June, her brother pre­vi­ously told AFP.

Ziyang In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court has now re-sen­tenced the 44-yearold to death with a two-year re­prieve, her lawyer Wan Miaoyan said — which means the penalty is likely to be com­muted to life in pri­son, as is the norm in China.

“I can con­firm that the sen­tence has been changed from an im­me­di­ate death sen­tence to a death sen­tence re­prieved for two years,” Wan said.

But she added that Li should have been sen­tenced to 12 years.

“I spoke to Li shortly be­fore the trial and she said she cher­ished the op­por­tu­nity to have her case re­viewed,” Wan said.

“Ev­ery night be­fore she went to sleep, she told her­self that she was only alive be­cause of the sup­port she re­ceived from a lot of peo­ple.”

Rights group Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s China re­searcher Wil­liam Nee said Li’s re­prieve “could prove a land­mark ver­dict for fu­ture cases where do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is a mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor.”

But he said a “dark shadow” was cast over the rul­ing by the “con­tin­ued per­se­cu­tion” of five fem­i­nist ac­tivists who were held for more than a month by Bei­jing.

They were de­tained shortly be­fore In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day as they pre­pared to hand out leaflets about sex­ual ha­rass­ment on public trans­port.

Bei­jing said that an anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion group which had backed their plight, Yiren­ping, was sus­pected of break­ing the law and would be pun­ished.

The con­trast sent “mixed mes­sages” over the is­sue, Lon­don-based Amnesty said.

In 2009 Li mar­ried Tan Yong, who U.S.-based ad­vo­cacy group Dui Hua said had bragged about abus­ing pre­vi­ous wives.

He “kicked and beat her, stubbed out lit cig­a­rettes on her face, locked her in a room with­out food, kept her out­side on a bal­cony in frigid win­ter tem­per­a­tures and cut off part of her fin­ger,” it added.

In Novem­ber 2010 he at­tacked her with an air gun but she grabbed it from him and used the butt of the weapon to kill him, it said.

The Ziyang court did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment from AFP.

Less than two decades ago, phys­i­cal abuse was not even ac­cept­able as grounds for di­vorce in China, but in 2001 the mar­riage law was amended to ex­plic­itly ban do­mes­tic vi­o­lence for the first time.

Abuse still takes place in 24.7 per­cent of Chi­nese fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to the All China Women’s Fed­er­a­tion, which is linked to the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party.

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