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Chinese Sausage Seller Spared Ex…  

2007-04-11 23:57:00|  分类: Essays-in-Englis |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Chinese Sausage Seller Spared Execution

 

BEIJING, April 10 (Reuters) - A Chinese roadside sausage seller was given a suspended death sentence on Tuesday for slitting a government inspector's throat in a case that gripped the nation and highlighted a yawning wealth gap.

 

Cui Yingjie, 23, killed Li Zhiqiang with a fruit knife in suburban Beijing last August after Li and urban management colleagues seized the tricycle Cui used in his business of cooking and selling food.

 

Urban management officials, known as "cheng guan", are mainly responsible for cracking down on unlicensed hawkers suspected of selling unsanitary food or low quality goods.

 

The Beijing court handed down the death penalty to Cui, but suspended execution for two years, defence lawyer Xia Lin said. Such sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment on condition of good behaviour.

 

"I had anticipated a more lenient sentence, but his father is happy it is not immediate execution," the lawyer told Reuters. The defence has yet to decide whether to appeal.

 

The lawyer argued at Cui's December trial that the ex-serviceman committed "a crime of passion" because he was desperate to win back his livelihood and did not mean to kill Li.

 

Court officials and Beijing's urban management office declined to comment.

 

The Beijing city government posthumously honoured Li as a "revolutionary martyr" but Cui's plight sparked a nationwide outpouring of sympathy and a heated debate on the need to protect the basic rights of disadvantaged groups.

 

He Weifang, a law professor at Peking University, welcomed the suspended death sentence as being "significant to the easing of social tensions".

 

"Barbaric law enforcement was once everywhere. The right to survival of those at the bottom of society was ignored," He said of the cheng guan. "We should frankly face up to the existence of the poor and create room for people from all strata of society."

 

"Some cities have made a positive response (after Li's death) and urban management officials have been ordered to behave in a more civilised manner."

 

Cui, from a peasant family in the northern province of Hebei near Beijing, is one of about 130 million migrants who have left their families behind to work in factories, restaurants or odd jobs in cities.

 

Three decades of market reforms have transformed China from an economic backwater into a powerhouse but widened income disparities.

 

The army of urban management officials was set up across the country in the late 1990s to ensure cities were clean and orderly, but critics say it has become a huge interest group thriving on fines and confiscations with over-reaching power.

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