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Death penalty may appeal, but law has higher call

(Global Times)

09:24, August 23, 2011

Li Changkui, a migrant worker from Yunnan Province, did not escape the death penalty during his retrial on Monday at the Yunnan Provincial Higher People's Court. Two previous sentences had seen him condemned to the death penalty, and the same with reprieve. On May 16, 2009, Li strangled his ex-girlfriend to death and killed her 3-year-old brother.

Like other high-profile murder cases, Li's trial has aroused public attention nationwide. The brutal killing won no forgiveness from the public. Since the second trial, there has been mounting public clamor for the death sentence to be given.

As public participation in judicial affairs deepens, more trials are exposed to the media and public, which are now able to exert subtle influence over the judges. Although the judiciary must be open to the public, the spirit of law should not be swayed by outside opinion.

Now there seems to be a wide gap between the public's demand for justice and judicial professionalism.

Under China's Criminal Law, intentional murder is punishable by death, life imprisonment or not less than 10 years without parole.

Li's second sentence of a death penalty with reprieve was totally within the bounds of the law. But the public obviously cannot accept a double murder not being met with the severest penalty.

People want justice. Judges have more considerations in mind. Yunnan, where drug smuggling is rampant, is facing special pressure to reduce the use of capital punishment. Drug smuggling has a broader and worse impact on society than individual killings.

But murdering the innocent is more likely to psychologically agitate the public.

Public opinion brought excessive attention on the trial, primarily due to an embarrassing lack of public trust in the judicial system.

The Chinese judiciary is trying to progress toward more independence and professionalism. Now, it must continue down this road while avoiding the intervention of public opinion. This will not be easy.

A certain detachment from the public is necessary for the rule of law. Judges should be respected. In Li's case, capital punishment or death penalty with reprieve were both options, but public pressure narrowed these to a single decision.

Li's destiny is now sealed. From the perspective of the public, the original sentence is maintained. But for the judiciary system, can we say it was the right decision?


Leave your comment4 comments

  1. Name

Jack Smith, U.S.A. at 2011-09-0524.26.135.*
Unfortunately, China appears to be moving toward the U.S. legal system, which is largely a joke. The trial process should be all about whether there is strong irrefutable evidence of a person"s guilt. If so, and the crime severe, the death penalty should be swiftly enforced. Who wants to live in a house where the garbage is never taken out? In the U.S. Wild West of the 1800"s, there was an old saying: "Hang "em and hang "em high!" Put all your efforts into making sure that only the guilty are punished, but don"t spend a minute worrying about the guilty. Don"t become like the U.S.
XXpKVlKQr at 2011-09-0442.83.47.*
Thank you!
cHXywuDOSmUWe at 2011-09-0291.121.59.*
Keep on wtriing and chugging away!
Ang at 2011-08-2360.48.88.*
AS a judge he/she should be based his/her verdit on evidence from defence lawyer, medical and persecutor.Then at the end of the trail the judge should provide summary to the public before the judge sentence the accure

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