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"Mercy killing" mother spared jail
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10:17, October 31, 2008

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A mother was spared jail after she admitted poisoning and smothering her daughter, a 20-year-old suffering from brain paralysis.

Li Daohong fed her daughter Xiao Fei more than 200 sleeping pills in a Beijing hotel, and smothered the girl with towels and quilt after she was asleep.

Li, a villager in China's eastern Jiangsu Province, said she felt despaired as she has spent the last penny to bring her daughter all over the country for treatment during the last 20 years.

The main income of the family is the wage of Li's husband, who looks after bicycles in the town.

"I'm afraid I will no longer be able to look after my daughter as I'm getting old," Li, 47, cried when she was questioned on the court.

Xiao Zhi, Li's elder daughter, described that her mother had looked after her sister around the clock, who could not even go to toilet by herself. Perennial tiredness made the grey-haired woman often faint from low blood pressure and low glucose.

Li's neighbors in her village sent a joint letter to the court, asking for mercy on the kind mother who could not afford a lawyer to defend herself.

Li was given a three-year jail sentence suspended for five years last week, by Beijing Haidian People's Court.

"The court is convinced of the fact that the defendant has spent great energy and money on the victim, and the mounting psychological burden proved unbearable for her..."read out the judge in Li's verdict.

Li's case has stirred up fervent debates among the public.

"Li Daohong is forgivable emotionally, but not tolerable according to the law", a netizen calling himself "Xiyang" writes. "The court should not spare her, as some people may follow her example and kill others just using the excuse of 'mercy'."

"Our society should shoulder the burden, but not Li. A wholesome social system should be set up to scientifically allocate the energy and money of the many volunteers who would like to help the disabled," writes "Bingzi" in her blog.

Liao Fei, associate professor of social psychology, Renmin University of China, noted that social attention should be drawn to the disabled as well as their families.

"The families need not only material aid, but also psychological support. The tragedy could be avoided if Li Daohong had been helped to tell her despairs out and been distracted from them," said Liao, "only by curing the family, can we cure the disabled."

Source: Xinhua

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