Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, August 25, 2003
Media Doubts the Final Sentence of Notorious Criminal
The Liaoning Province's Higher People's Court gave its final sentence on August 15 to the Liu Yong case, altering its earlier death sentence to Liu Yong, the "No 1 gangster" who had been confirmed guilty of crimes of organizing and leading the underworld, malicious injuries, intentional destructions of property, illegal business operations, bribery, illegal holding of firearm and interference in public function, to death penalty with a two-year reprieve.
The Liaoning Province's Higher People's Court gave its final sentence on August 15 to the Liu Yong case, altering its earlier death sentence to Liu Yong, the "No 1 gangster" who had been confirmed guilty of crimes of organizing and leading the underworld, malicious injuries, intentional destructions of property, illegal business operations, bribery, illegal holding of firearm and interference in public function, to death penalty with a two-year reprieve. The unexpected change in judgment shocked many people, and aroused numerous comments and opinions from influential forums on the Internet, many voicing doubts and dissatisfaction. However, in sharp contrast to this is: local newspapers remained silent or only carried low-key reports.
This reminds us of the Sun Zhigang case and the Wu Renbao declaration. When the Sun Zhigang case was firstly revealed by the Nanfang Metropolitan Daily, many newspapers remained mute for an understandable reason. Later, with rising public opinions and support from newspapers in other cities including Beijing, the case snowballed into one of the most significant news event of China in 2003, and finally directly pushed forward the nation's construction of democracy and legal system. While Wu Renbao declared in Nanjing last year that he would work till 80, newspapers only applauded, without any voice of opposition. However, this year, after Wu announced his retirement (actually a retirement in name only), many newspapers began to carry articles, raising doubts about Wu's practice.
It is strange enough that newspapers usually remain silent over local events, and many inside stories are only uncovered under interference and support from media of other cities. It is by this way that the facts of many events are restored. In a society where information is becoming increasingly transparent and difficult to be blocked or concealed, it is almost impossible to turn a blind eye, or remain tongue-tied, to news reports.
There has finally been breakthrough media report on Liu Yong case when on August 21 a Shanghai-based paper carried a signed article by Li Shuming, which raised doubts about the changed judgment from death to death with two-year reprieve. The author believes the sentence change is of poor legal grounds, asking that for whom the death penalty is reserved if even a person as sinful as Liu Yong should live? In the end of his article Mr Li pointed out clearly that the final sentence of the Higher People's Court of Liaoning sets a dangerous precedent, and both the supreme people's court as the highest judicial organ, and the procuratorial organ as a supervisory body, have responsibilities to stand out and defend the sanctity of law.
Out of understandable reasons, Mr Li's article did not go into deep-rooted aspects of the problem, which seemed leave some leeway compared with some profound and powerful writing in online posts. Nevertheless, articles of this kind, which are full of rational thinking, serve to reflect to some extent doubts from ordinary people.
Perhaps the changed decision of the Liaoning Higher People's Court has a tenable basis, but this basis must be made clear to the public as long as it doesn't affect national security, especially in a time when "ruling the country according to law" is given unprecedented stress. The court also has the responsibility to make clear, convincing explanations on the "nature and actual situation" of the case.
(This is an article carried on China Youth Daily, August 25, by Xiao Yuhen; translated by PD Online Staff Member Li Heng)