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TV actor arrested after 13 years on the run

By  Xing yu and Zhao Yunpeng (China Daily)

08:09, December 15, 2011

BEIJING / HARBIN - A popular TV actor has been arrested and is in criminal detention for a crime committed 13 years ago.

The Qiqihar City Public Security Bureau in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang received reports that Zhang Guofeng, an actor in Jinhua, Zhejiang province in East China, was suspected of being Ji Siguang, a man wanted for assaulting a police officer in 1998.

After a joint investigation with the police in Jinhua, the Qiqihar police confirmed that Zhang was the man they wanted and on Dec 8, the 39-year-old actor was arrested.

When caught, he was playing the part of a monk in a new TV drama.

According to police, Ji and three accomplices robbed a policeman, Yang Lin, and his wife on Dec 6, 1998, in Qiqihar.

Yang's handgun, cell phone and some cash were stolen, and Yang was seriously injured after being stabbed in the chest and back.

The three other suspects were caught, but Ji escaped.

Questioned by police after being escorted back to Qiqihar, Ji explained he fled to Jinhua and assumed the identity of Zhang Guofeng, in which guise he began working as an extra at Zhejiang Hengdian World Studios.

He later got opportunities to play supporting roles and acted in some popular TV shows, such as Undercover, in which he played a role alongside some of the most famous actors and actresses in China.

Ji had supporting roles in more than 30 TV dramas, but he confessed he never watched them, as, even after 13 years on the run, he was always scared that the police would be able to identify him.

In a similar case, a man in Liaoning province was charged with a 13-year-old murder in June, when he was recognized as a contestant on a matchmaking program. The police arrested him after the show.

The date of Ji's trial is still to be set, but, if convicted, he could face a long jail sentence.

"Ji's sentence will depend on what part he played in the robbery," said Hong Daode, a criminal law professor at China University of Political Science and Law.

"A suspect who is charged with robbery faces three years to ten years in prison. If someone is seriously injured or killed in the robbery, the suspect could receive a life sentence or even the death penalty," said Tang Hongxin, an attorney at Ying Ke Law Firm.

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