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Suspended Death Sentence for Street Peddler Who Killed Inspector
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A Beijing court has given a roadside vendor who stabbed and killed an urban management officer last year a suspended death sentence.

Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday found 23-year-old Cui Yingjie, a farmer from Fuping County of Hebei Province in northern China, guilty of intentionally killing Li Zhiqiang in Haidian District on August 11 last year.

The case has stirred up a controversy about the sometimes aggressive methods of street inspectors.

On a midsummer's day in the Zhongguancun area, Li and several other officers tried to confiscate the tricycle from which Cui sold grilled sausages without a license.

Cui grabbed a fruit knife and slit 36-year-old Li Zhiqiang's throat with it after his tricycle was seized. After 11 hours on the run, Cui was captured in Tianjin.

The court found that Cui used force to interfere with the officers' attempts to carry out their duties and was guilty of manslaughter. Cui pleaded guilty to his crime.

But, after taking the circumstances of the case and its social ramifications into consideration, the court decided not to sentence Cui to immediate death.

The case has generated a lot of public discussion about urban management methods.

Urban management officers have long been criticized for their arbitrary and sometimes crude enforcement methods, and conflict with street peddlers is frequent.

Cai Dingjian, a professor at China University of Politics and Law, said the case highlights the emotions that regulation enforcement methods can provoke.

He said the case also raised the question of how to protect the rights of the underprivileged migrant population in cities while also preserving law and order.

He suggested China study other countries' practices of designating certain areas for vendors, or open up night bazaars and weekend markets.

Some Chinese cities have started changing their approach to hawkers. For example, Shanghai has announced it will allow street vendors to operate in certain areas.

The Beijing municipal government is drafting a regulation to spell out the duties, powers and methods of urban management officers.

(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2007)

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