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Desperate farmer stoops to robbery
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A 19-year-old Beijing farmer, who committed robberies so that he could receive free medical treatment in prison, has been admitted to hospital, Beijing News said yesterday.

Li Dawei (not his real name), who is suffering from aplastic anemia, a bone marrow disease, is receiving treatment at a hospital in northern Beijing under the custody of the police, the report said.

Li was sentenced to 18 years in prison for armed robbery. He used a home-made gun to steal a taxi driver's vehicle in December last year. He later sold the vehicle for 15,000 yuan ($2,200), the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Wednesday.

He was arrested in January and was sentenced recently, the newspaper said.

Li said being sentenced to jail was the only way he could receive free medical treatment for his potentially fatal disease, the newspaper said.

Court records show Li of Shunyi district had previously been sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and fined 6,000 yuan on another robbery charge, but was allowed to go free because of his illness.

Li said he knew if he committed another robbery he would serve prison time, and receive free medical treatment, Beijing News said. Zhang Tao, a Beijing lawyer, told China Daily yesterday that according to the law, people in jail had the right to receive free medical treatment.

He said although these cases are rare, "it still shows the medical insurance system needs improvement".

The Chongqing Times newspaper earlier reported that a 41-year-old man had been sentenced to prison on four occasions since 1992 so he could receive free medical care for his chronic illness.

(China Daily November 28, 2008)

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