A photo of Zhou Yan is shown on a computer.
A teenager accused of setting fire to a girl who turned down his romantic advances stood trial in a district court in Anhui province on Monday.
The Baohe District People's Court in Hefei presided over the closed-door trial. Media outlets and the general public were both excluded from the hearing because the defendant is underage.
Tao Rukun, 17, was charged with the crime of inflicting intentional injury and is suspected of setting fire to his former classmate, Zhou Yan, by pouring gasoline on her face and igniting it with a lighter last September. The attack is believed to have come after she had spurned his advances.
Zhou Yan, 17, who suffered burns to her face and body, appears in court in Hefei, Anhui province, on Monday. Photo by Sun Lingjuan / for China Daily
Zhou, also 17, suffered burns to her face and body and appeared in court on Monday in the company of her doctor.
Li Zhixian, a lawyer assigned to represent Zhou after her family had applied for legal aid, said Zhou's parents asked for a public hearing to be held before the trial.
"But that request was turned down," Li said. "We applied to delay the hearing until May because of concerns over Zhou's physical condition, but that was also rejected. In the meantime, Zhou Yan insisted that she be in court today, even though she went through back surgery on April 10. "
Zhou's mother, Li Cong, said after the trial that Zhou took several breaks from the hearing, particularly at times when she had been overcome with tears.
"The two sides didn't reach any consensus today (on Monday)," said Wang Yalin, another lawyer representing Zhou.
"We insisted that Tao be charged with the crime of intentional homicide, whereas the prosecutor said it should be the crime of inflicting an intentional injury.
"Another issue is how much gasoline Tao poured on Zhou. Tao said it was only 100 milliliters, whereas Zhou said it was more, since her chest and thighs were both burned. She's not even sure how much it was."
A hospital examination found that about 32 percent of Zhou's skin had been burned and that she had suffered severe burns on her head, neck, hands and legs.
In court, Zhou testified that Tao had told her to "go to hell" when he splashed the lighter fluid on her. Tao denied that, recalling that his words had been, "You told me I am ugly and I will make you uglier."
"Tao's testimony was incongruous," Wan said.
Tao Rukun's lawyer and his parents were escorted out of the court soon after the trial and could not be questioned.
Wu Dong, a senior partner at the Shanghai M&A Law Firm, said little evidence has been collected in the case, making the chances slim that Tao will be charged with intentional killing.
"The judge will only consider the charge proposed by Zhou's lawyer, but that's not the dominating factor," he said. "Tao is likely to stick to the crime of intentional injury. Also, it's important to remember that Tao Rukun is under 18 years old."
Xia Zhengyi, the doctor in charge of Zhou, said Zhou was scheduled to have her stitches out on Sunday. Instead, she insisted on appearing at the trial, saying she would delay the procedure until after she had returned to Beijing.
"The hospital was not in favor of Zhou's appearing, but Zhou said she had some important testimony that she wanted to deliver in person," Xia said.
She added that it will take Zhou at least two years to recover.