Thursday, 27 January 2011

Administering Justice

I was surprised to see the young man who had run over a fellow university student and thought he could get away with it by saying his father was Li Gang, was in court yesterday.
Li Qiming admitted in court that he was responsible for the death of the female student and pleaded guilty to traffic offenses.
The court said it would hand its verdict another day, which means consulting with government officials instead of just looking at the evidence and listening to the arguments...
The 22-year-old Li is the son of Li Gang, a deputy district police chief in Baoding, Wangdu County in Hebei Province. If convicted, he will be sentenced for between three to seven years in jail according to Article 133 of the Criminal Law.
He was charged with traffic offenses for running over two female students while speeding through Hebei University campus while drunk in late October. One of the women, 20-year-old Chen Xiaofeng, was killed. However, when Li was stopped by security guards and students, he shouted, "My father is Li Gang!", inferring he would be able to avoid punishment.

It quickly became a catchphrase for people who think they are above the law.
While people across the country were outraged by the younger Li's behaviour, both father and son tried to win public sentiment by being interviewed on television though technically this should not have been allowed legally as Li Qiming was a suspect.
Then officials tried to pressure Chen's family into accepting financial compensation and eventually they did, and told their lawyer his services were not needed anymore.
Which is why I'm pleasantly surprised to see this case end up in court.
However, the Chen family's current lawyer Hu Yihua doesn't think the punishment will be too severe considering Li pressured Chen's family to accept 460,000 RMB ($69,896) for compensation and a signed letter of forgiveness.
Nevertheless, the family is still hurting over the loss of Chen Xiaofeng. Her brother Chen Lin said, "I was furious to hear that the lawyer was pleading for a lighter sentence because Li behaved well at university and during his internship."
He added that his father cried when hearing about the accident described in court. "We still believe that Li should be charged with endangering public safety."
While he hoped the verdict would be fair, Chen Lin acknowledged there wasn't much more he could do about it.
It's good to see China's legal system slowly lumbering towards proper implementation no matter who you are.
Anyone regardless of their connections should be charged and tried under the law if they have done something unlawful.
And hopefully the verdict will be fair, considering those making the judgment have to bear in mind the public sentiment over this incident. If the sentence is too light, the public's anger will easily simmer to a boil -- something the government doesn't want right now.

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