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Wednesday, May 09, 2001, updated at 17:28(GMT+8)

Tough Penalty, Only 'Slap on Wrist': Reflections on Zhang Jun Gang Crime

  • Why the case heard at Chongqing and Changde simultaneously?

  • Why so many women involved?

  • Simple "severe punishment" not enough in crime striking

  • Punishment not aim but means

  • One case heard in two places, an exception

    --- Chen Weidong, professor and doctoral tutor with Law Institute of the Renmin University

    Judicial authorities with both the procuratorial departments of Chengde and Chongqing hold that Zhang Jun, by organizing Li Zejun, Chen Shiqing, Zhao Zhenghong and others brought to justice on criminal charges, had formed a ferocious criminal gang defined by China's Criminal Law. So this is one case in law principles.

    A case is not heard as a singular one but with separate criminal proceedings conducted. Separate proceedings are normally in the way same court sessions are held usually in different phases, and are rarely seen in practice at two different courts in two places on a case like Zhang's.

    Relevant laws and judicial interpretation on regional jurisdiction of crimes provide criminal cases should be put under jurisdiction of local People's Court of locus criminis (locality of a crime). If more worthy, these could be handled by a People's Court according to residency of criminal defendants and if necessary, transferred to a People's Court of major locus criminis.

    In view of related legislation and judicial practice, Zhang's case should be heard at the People's Court of major locus criminis, or by the court first accepting the case when both Chongqing and Changde are in line with the condition of major locus criminis. But it was finally heard simultaneously at two different courts, which we have to say is an exception.

    Why many women involved?

    --- Chen Xinxing, deputy researcher with All-China Women Federation Research Institute

    What is worthy of note is that altogether 7 women involved in Zhang Jun's case and five of them (Qin Zhibi, Quan Hongyan, Yan Mingyan, Yan Ming and Chen Le) are Zhang's mistresses. Their denouement is deplorable with four of them sentenced to death and one given a term of 9 nine years of imprisonment.

    A woman always hopes there is a faithful man to rely on, especially under a situation when she lacks family care and love, of which Zhang Jun has taken advantage to entice his mistresses into the criminal abyss step by step.

    These five women have undoubtedly fallen into Zhang Jun's affection trap and then lost their conscience and humanity.

    The following is what Yan Ming said in prison: Divorced earlier with one girl to take, I turned out to be the first pit-fallen of Zhang in front of his 'generosity' and honey-sweet words. I believed that I had found someone to rely on for my life and my emotion defending line was broken. After that, Zhang lured me into another trap when he borrowed 10,000 yuan from me and threatened me to commit crimes with him or he would kill my whole family.

    Yang Mingyan got furious when she finally knew Zhang's plot in prison. She said she was cheated and would regret all her life. But Chen Le, another Zhang's mistress, still believed that she was 'the only woman he loves best' till he called her after his arrest.

    When a woman losses the sense of justice and moral conscience while at the same time shackled by abnormal feeling, the 'energy' she releases is usually larger than a man and she will do everything for love and would even rather die, which could we say is a tragedy?

    Tough punishments, only "slap on wrist"

    --- Zhang Yansheng, director of Criminal Professional Commission of Beijing Lawyers Association

    Zhang Jun's case has brought us some inspirations. First, the way by pure severe punishments to crack down on crimes lacks strength. The year of 1983 has witnessed the beginning of Crackdown Hard Campaign with its severity and range unprecedented since the birth of New China, but what on earth these campaigns have achieved? The number of big cases is still rising.

    In 1983, Zhang Jun was sentenced to three years of indoctrination through labor for affrays and blows. From 1991 to 2000, Zhang went through the 1996 Crackdown Hard Campaign without a smell of restraint and finally formed the criminal gang rarely seen after the founding of the People's Republic of China.

    Second is parental education to children. Zhang's parents died when he was only 10 years old and this is probably the root cause of his crimes, as facts have proved family environment is a very important element to cause people to commit crimes. In many countries of both continental law system and Anglo-American law system, paternity will be deprived of should parents loss the condition and capability to educate their offspring. But in present-day China, research work in this area is still weak or even blank.

    The third problem is legal education at school. To many middle and primary school students, the existing legal education system is empty and tedious without fresh stories like helping a wounded cat to let these children experience love, respect and care of life through rinses and wrap-up of the wound.

    Punishment not aim but means

    --- Zhou Zhenxiang, vice president of China Youth College for Political Science

    Zhang in his twenties had been sentenced 3 years of imprisonment, which he once put that if it were as humane as the one in Chongqing, he would not have gone as far as today. That demonstrates even criminals should be given human treatment, or punishments over them will do no good but engender anti-society feeling and even psychology to take revenge on society at large.

    Crimes committed by Zhang Jun with his gang are most cruel and the gang had rampaged as long as 8 years. Should we not cast doubt over the capability of controlling crimes by our public security departments? There are two problems: one is the technique to track down crimes, with which there is still a long way to go and another is no sufficient importance has been attached by related departments. To ward off crimes lies not in the severity of punishment but the inevitability of penalty to be administered.

    There poses also such a realistic social problem: self-protection consciousness and means are weak for some circles of the whole society.

    Enlarging wealth by people and poverty gap in society during the transitional period also induces potential social psychology imbalance, with some people who failed to legally achieve prosperity would adopt illegal means, which demands the state to take measures accordingly.

    By PD Online staff member Li Heng

    In This Section

    In view of legal stipulation and judicial practices, Zhang's case should be heard at the People's Court of major locus criminis, or by the primitive court accepting the case when both Chongqing and Changde are in line with the condition of major locus criminis. But it was finally heard simultaneously at two different courts, which we have to say is an exception.

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