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Migrant Worker Kills for Unpaid Wages, Appeals Death Penalty

A migrant worker sentenced to death for killing four people and seriously injuring one in a fit of rage over his unpaid wages is waiting the verdict of his appeal against the sentence.

An intermediate people's court in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region sentenced Wang Binyu, a migrant worker, to death earlier this year for killing his foreman and three of the foreman's family members. Wang also seriously wounded a co-worker. 

Wang stabbed the victims to death over his unpaid wages.

Wang later appealed to the Ningxia High People's Court, but the court has yet to make its decision.

The high court has refused to comment on the case before it hands down its verdict.

"The high court has exceeded the time limit for handing down the verdict," the plaintiff's attorney Wu Shaozhi told China Daily in a telephone interview yesterday. "But it might be good news for Wang Binyu as it shows the court is dealing with the case in detail and public opinion will be more influential."

Wu is expected to arrive in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia, today in a final attempt to persuade the court to hand down a "death with years of reprieve" penalty, a less severe punishment that means he could spend time in jail instead.

The lawyer said the public has shown tremendous sympathy for Wang. Donations, including cash, have been made to his family.

Wang's story has been hogging the media limelight since early this month. The tragedy triggered widespread discussion about the death penalty.

"As for the whole picture, China is on its way to abolish the death penalty," said Wu, who insisted Wang deserves a less severe penalty.

In a fit of rage, the 28-year-old man killed his foreman Wu Hua and three of Wu's family members in May after Wu failed to give Wang more than 5,000 yuan (US$620) in unpaid wages.

Prior to the killings, Wang, who reportedly needed the money to pay for medical costs for his father, had asked local courts and the labor department for help without success.

When Wang asked the foreman for this wages a second time, he was abused and beaten.

"I couldn't stand it any more," Wang said after. "I was fed up with them, and I stabbed five persons with a knife."

Wang turned himself in to the police.

This case is significant because it sheds light on the lack of effective legal remedies for the underprivileged group of migrant workers.

According to statistics released by the People's Daily on Monday, the country's main labor source consists of 120 million rural workers who contribute more than 530 billion yuan (US$65.4 billion) a year to local economies outside their hometowns.

(China Daily September 21, 2005)

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