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China court cuts jail term for toll evading man at retrial


19:43, December 15, 2011

LUSHAN, Henan, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- A central China court has shortened the prison term for a toll-evading farmer from life to two and a half years after rehearing the case Thursday.

The People's Court of Lushan county in Henan Province handed down the new sentence for Shi Jianfeng, a farmer convicted of fraud, which included a 10,000-yuan (1,577 U.S. dollars) fine.

Shi was previously sentenced to life by another court in Henan Province for evading 3.68 million yuan of expressway tolls from 2008 to 2009.

The sentence, plus 200 million yuan in fines, caused a public outcry in which many criticized the punishment as too harsh, and pointed out that the country's expressway tolls are too high.

The Lushan county court found after an investigation that Shi's toll evasion was valued at 492,375 yuan.

The court convicted Shi of fraud, saying he had used fake military license plates on his two trucks to evade expressway tolls while transporting sand for his younger brother's firm.

His younger brother Shi Junfeng, who surrendered himself after the first trial and confessed his brother had taken the blame for him, received seven years in prison for fraud and was fined 50,000 yuan, the court said in a statement Thursday.

Two others involved in the case received a suspended one-year jail term for fabricating military license plates, it said.

All the four pled guilty in court.

A court official said the penalty had been meted out more fairly this time, as the average prison term for fraud is three to 10 years, according to documents issued by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

He said the court had shown leniency to the Shi brothers because their offences were aimed at making more profits instead of harming public interest.

"Leniency in their case is conducive to building social harmony," the official said.

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