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Toll fraud case retried; lesser sentence passed

By Liu Xiangrui and Zhang Leilong (China Daily)

09:05, December 16, 2011

Shi Junfeng (right) and Shi Jianfeng, who are accused of evading a huge amount of expressway tolls, sit at a court in Lushan county, Henan province, on Thursday. Shi Junfeng was sentenced to seven years in prison, while his co-defendant received a 30-month term. Li Bo / Xinhua

PINGDINGSHAN, Henan - A case involving the evasion of a huge amount of expressway tolls, which drew widespread attention when one defendant was sentenced to life in an earlier trial, was reheard in Henan province on Thursday.

Prosecutors lowered the amount of tolls evaded from the 3.68 million yuan ($577,000) in the first trial to about 600,000 yuan.

That change, a focal point of the hearing, gave rise to heated public debate when it was recently announced,

In December 2010, Shi Jianfeng, a villager from Henan, was sentenced to life in prison for evading 3.68 million yuan in tolls by using fake military vehicle licenses, fake drivers licenses and soldiers' identity cards.

The huge amount of tolls involved and the severe sentence passed set off heated public discussion. Prosecutors subsequently withdrew the case. Pending further investigation, and the presiding judge was removed from office.

Shi retracted his confession after receiving the life sentence.

According to Shi, his brother Shi Junfeng illegally bought licenses from two military police officers. The licenses, which were later determined to be fake, were used with two trucks the brothers owned that were driven by hired drivers to move construction material.

Shi Jianfeng said the military police officers signed a contract with his brother, in return for a 1.2 million yuan bribe, to help them if there were any problem with the licenses.

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