Nanny accused of arson awaits sentence

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 3, 2018
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Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court opened the first hearing of the second trial on Feb.1 of an arson case that claimed the lives of four family members.

Mo Huanjing stands trial at Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court on Feb 1, 2018, on suspicion of setting a fire which led to the deaths of four people. [Photo/China Daily]

Mo Huanjing, accused of setting fire in her employer's unit in a high-rise apartment building in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, pleaded guilty and showed remorse.


On June 22, 2017, the 35-year-old suspect was accused of lighting a book in the home of her employer, Zhu Xiaozhen, 34 years old. The flame quickly spread to the curtains and furnishings, eventually engulfing the entire apartment with Zhu and her three children -- two boys and a girl aged between six and 11 -- trapped inside.


The fire, which had started around 5:00 am, was put out at 6:48 am by local firefighters. However, Zhu and her children were found to have inhaled a huge amount of carbon monoxide and all died during hospital emergency treatment.


On Aug. 21, last year, the Hangzhou People's Procuratorate launched a prosecution of Mo for alleged arson and theft.


However, in the first hearing held on Dec. 21, 2017, Mo's defense attorney, Dang Linshan, questioned the court's jurisdiction over the case, and subsequently stormed out of the court, ignoring all the relevant rules and disciplines and refusing to continue to conduct the defense.


As a result, the trial had to be closed prematurely while efforts were made to find an alternative attorney to replace Dang, whose conduct was investigated and led to disciplinary action for breaking court rules.


At the opening of the second trial, the procurators accused Mo, who faced colossal gambling debts, of committing thefts from three families in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province and Shanghai between 2015 to 2016. According to the Procuratorate, the evidences of theft and arson were sufficient and clear enough for the nanny to be punished by law.


The only family survivor, Lin Shengbin, husband of Zhu, questioned Mo as to why she had started fire in his home when his wife and children had treated her so nice. However, Lin, then lost his temper, hurled a procurator's thermos flask at Mo, which happened to hit the face of a bailiff, so he was led from the courtroom for violating the rules of the hearing.


Mo confessed that she had stolen the family's belongings and set the fire, but her true motivation was to put out the fire on her own hoping to win the gratitude of her employer, who might reward her with a handsome bonus with which she could cover some of her gambling debts.


She pointed out she didn't flee the scene and made emergency calls as the fire took hold.


However, according to the procurators, the suspect's argument, including her motivation, the time when she lit the fire, her alleged use of alarms and her attempts to use a hammer to break the windows, all raised a high degree of skepticism.


They believed, Mo, who had not given any thought to controlling the fire before starting it, should bear full legal responsibility even if she argued it was purely due to her negligence.


The court also summoned firefighters and local police to testify over the doubts that were raised in regard to fire extinguishing capabilities of the community.


In her final statement, Mo showed her great remorse for her addiction in gambling, which led her to committing an incorrigible crime and expressed her deep apology for the family she had ruined.


The verdict is still pending, the judicial committee of the court still deliberating on their decision.

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