Home / China / Opinion Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Any verdict should be based on rule of law
Adjust font size:

The Deng Yujiao case, in which a woman pedicurist at a local hotel's massage parlor in Badong county, Hubei Province, stabbed to death an official demanding "special service" from her, has drawn immense public attention.

The case seems to involve many elements that appeal to the tastes of netizens and the media: sex, corruption, and the revolt of the weak against the powerful.

It's reported that the woman has been charged with "intentional assault" by the Badong prosecutors. But the prosecution acknowledged that Deng's act was "in self-defense, though exceeding necessary limits".

Interestingly, there was a similar case that took place in Beijing's Fengtai district on May 28, in which a middle-aged man was stabbed to death - but this time by a male pedicurist - after a quarrel, the Beijing News reported on May 30. Police detained the suspect and is investigating the case.

Both cases were about pedicurists stabbing their customers to death, but the social repercussions of the second case are far less than that of the first.

The great attention and support given by the media and netizens to Deng Yujiao stems mostly from public concerns over the protection of women's rights and sympathy toward the weak and downtrodden. But same criteria should be observed in the handling of both cases, and any verdict should be based on the rule of law.

Some netizens and media have based their judgment on Deng Yujiao's case on sensibility instead of sense, as a result of a lack of knowledge of some basic facts concerning the case. This inevitably led to biased views. But their constant attention has made it possible for the case to be handled justly, impartially and openly throughout the process from investigation to final verdict.

According to article 20 of China's Criminal Law, criminal responsibility is not to be borne for an act of legitimate defense that is undertaken to stop ongoing unlawful infringement of the rights of the person who causes harm to the unlawful infringer.

Criminal responsibility shall be borne where legitimate defense noticeably exceeds the necessary limits and causes great harm. However, consideration shall be given to imposing a mitigated punishment or to granting exemption from punishment.

But criminal responsibility is not to be borne for a defensive act undertaken against ongoing physical assault, murder, robbery, rape, kidnap, and other violent crimes that seriously endanger personal safety that causes injury or death to the unlawful infringer because such an act is not an excessive defense.

The acknowledgment of "excessive self-defense" in Deng's case means she will receive mitigated, or even be exempted from, criminal punishment.

Two reporters, one from Beijing and the other from Guangzhou, were allegedly beaten the week before during their interview with Deng's grandmother by some local people whose identities are yet to be confirmed.

The public, including netizens and the media, enjoy the right to be informed of nothing but truth. As long as the law is not violated, reporters enjoy the freedom of conducting interviews, just as people have the right to decline to be interviewed. No one can intervene in such interviews without legal authorization, let alone beat up reporters, which is against the law. All parties involved in this case should behave themselves based on the law and reason.

The author is a lawyer and chief of Beijing Huijia Law Firm

(China Daily June 10, 2009)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read Bookmark and Share
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>