HANGZHOU, July 11 -- A Chinese tycoon had her death sentence for illegal fund-raising commuted to life imprisonment at a trial on Friday in east China's Zhejiang Province.
Wu Ying, from Zhejiang, was initially sentenced to death in 2009. Her sentence was reduced to death with a two-year reprieve following a retrial in May 2012.
As the reprieve period was expiring, Wu, who was serving in Zhejiang Provincial Women's Prison in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, applied for the trial and hoped for a further change to her penalty.
According to the Criminal Law, a criminal serving a stay of execution can apply for a reduction in their penalty to life imprisonment, or even to a 25-year jail term if the person has no record of criminality in jail.
Wu was given an open trial on Friday
Her case had earlier sparked heated debate over the country's fundraising system, which outlaws all forms of private lending.
In 2007, the former chairwoman of Bense Trade Co. Ltd., then aged only 26, was convicted of cheating investors out of 380 million yuan (61.1 million U.S. dollars) from May 2005 to January 2007 in private lending scams.
The court heard that she amassed the fortune by fabricating facts, deliberately hiding the truth and promising high returns as an incentive.
Yao Haitao, an official with the Zhejiang Provincial Higher People's Court, said it will also put a video of Wu Ying's commutation trial online.
Commutation trials had mostly been held behind closed door by Chinese courts.
The Supreme People's Court (SPC) began to push forward a reform of the court system last year. In March, the SPC required all courts to adopt open trials of commutation of sentences and parole cases and publish verdicts that allow someone to serve a sentence outside jail for medical reasons.