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Crime & Corruption

China: Son of prominent general on trial for rape sparks public outcry


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Li Tianyi (right) performs with his parents at a holiday concert in 2011. [Source: China Daily]

The people of China are tired of party officials and their families thinking they are above the law. The children of party officials are especially criticized and seen as “spoiled” because of their behavior.

The feelings of outrage surrounding the rape case the son of a prominent general is involved in suggests that the people of China are tired of the abuses of power political aristocrats are able to get away with.

Li Tianyi, 17, who is the son of General Li Shuangjiang, a prominent singer for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has been held for charges of rape. The General’s teenage son was allegedly involved in the gang rape of a woman in a Beijing hotel back in February.

This is not Li’s first brush with the law. At 15, he was sentenced to a year’s detention for a road rage incident, assaulting a couple in another car for blocking his way. He was too young to be driving legally in the first place, and the BMW he was driving was without license plates.

According to a statement one of Li’s lawyers gave to the Reuters News Agency, Li Tianyi is not going to plead guilty. Li’s denial of the allegations angered the public even more.

Beijing-based microbloggers wrote that in a closed-door trial, Li has stated that he was drunk and had no knowledge of any assault that he and four other boys supposedly committed.

This case has made headlines for weeks, as it is another instance of a corrupt political aristocrat. The emotions of the people may be heightened as a result of Bo Xilai‘s trial that has just come to a close.

Reuters reports that journalists, supporters of Li, and supporters of the victim were gathered outside the court in Beijing. Two women even held signs of protest that read “Protecting the rights of mothers, females, and young girls” and “Believe in justice.”

Justice is what Li’s legal adviser wants to see done. He told bloggers in a question-and-answer session on Tuesday that “celebrities are also citizens and should not be held ransom because of emotions. A moral judgment cannot replace justice.”

But one microblogger stated that if Li doesn’t receive a heavy sentence, the people’s resentment toward the special treatment the families of political aristocrats receive will not be appeased.

The people’s fears are not unfounded, according to Zhang Ming, a politics professor at Renmin University. “In China, this kind of privilege is powerful. It’s omnipresent.”

The BBC says that even The People’s Daily Newspaper, known for being the mouthpiece of the Chinese government, even commented that prominent families failing to educate their children can antagonize the public.

The people of China mistrust their government to the point that if Li does not receive a heavy conviction, they will believe it is only because of his father’s political influence. A “fair” trial will certainly be difficult for Li Tianyi to get.

Source: BBC News China; Reuters

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