Chinese court hands down five years for man in ATM windfall

Updated: 2008-03-31 18:06

GUANGZHOU - A south China court on Monday rescinded a life sentence handed down to a migrant worker who took 175,000 yuan (US$24,400) from a faulty ATM bank machine and instead jailed him for five years.

The Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou in the southern Guangdong Province announced the verdict on Xu Ting soon after the court started at 3 pm.

The native of Linfen City in north China's Shanxi Province previously work in Guangzhou as a security guard in April 2006.

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While getting cash from an ATM, Xu realized it had only deducted one yuan from his account for every 1,000 yuan withdrawn. He mentioned this to a friend surnamed Guo.

Xu subsequently withdrew 175,000 yuan over 171 transactions while Guo took 18,000 yuan.

Guo was jailed for a year after turning himself in. Xu remained on the run for a year before being apprehended and sentenced to life for the theft last year.

The verdict of the 24-year-old Xu's first trial sentence last year sparked an outcry among media and legal experts alike. Many people said he didn't deserve such a severe punishment.

The Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou was told by the Guangdong Provincial Higher People's Court last month to rehear the case. It said the November ruling lacked evidence and some facts needed clarification.

A retrial was conducted on February 22 at the Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou when prosecutors insisted on charging Xu with stealing from a bank. The accused's lawyers, however, protested their client was not guilty.

The court deferred its decision.

In order to be present at Monday's rehearing, Xu Cailiang, Xu's father, flew into Guangzhou late on Sunday.

"What concerns me most is the term of the imprisonment, but I am confident they won't sentence my son to life this time," said the senior Xu before Monday's trial. "The retrial itself suggested the previous ruling was not fair."

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