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Rapist sentenced to death again

(China Daily)

10:18, August 23, 2011

BEIJING - Li Changkui, who was convicted of raping and murdering a girl before killing her younger brother, received a death sentence on Monday night after a provincial higher people's court had overturned a previous ruling that had given the man a two-year reprieve.

"Justice has been done," said Wang Yong, a lawyer representing the victims' family, which hails from Southwest China's Yunnan province.

The higher people's court changed the previous ruling after concluding that Li had acted with extreme cruelty in the case, said Wang. Wang said he will receive an official notice of the sentencing in five days.

The higher people's court of Yunnan opened a retrial of the case on Monday morning.

At 8:30 am, the provincial court at Zhaotong city, Yunnan province, heard the rape case against Li in private and then retried him an hour later in public on the murder charges.

Tang Hongxin, a Beijing-based lawyer at Yingke Law Firm, said he has paid attention to the case for a long time.

"We should ask why this sentence has changed so much," he said.

In 2009, Li, a 29-year-old farmer, raped an 18-year-old girl named Wang Jiafei, in a village near Zhaotong city, and then killed her by hitting her on the head with a hoe. He next murdered her 3-year-old brother, Wang Jiahong, by throwing him on the ground.

Li was sentenced to death at a trial held at the Zhaotong city's intermediate people's court in July 2010 and ordered to pay 30,000 yuan ($4,600) in compensation to Wang Tingli, the victims' father. That punishment, though, was reduced as a result of an appeal he had filed to a higher court.

In March this year, the higher people's court of Yunnan province commuted the sentence to a death penalty with a two-year reprieve after noting that Li had turned himself in to the local police four days after committing the murder.

By granting him a reprieve, the court had effectively sentenced him to life in prison, which is the usual outcome in China when the execution of a death-penalty sentence is delayed.

The reprieve also elicited protests from the victims' family and an outcry from the public.

Wang Jiachong, the victims' elder brother, denied that Li had surrendered and also claimed that the man had not compensated his family.

Meanwhile, a netizen named Wodetaohao said he was scared by the second sentencing. He said he felt nothing could guarantee the public's safety if a man was not more severely punished for raping a girl and killing her and her brother, according to a previous report.

On July 16, the provincial court said it would convene a new group of judges to retry Li's case, since Wang Tingli and Chen Lijin, the plaintiffs in a supplementary civil action in the criminal proceedings, refused to accept the revised sentencing.

The provincial prosecuting authority also deemed the revised ruling to be light.

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