5-year jail term for ATM thief upheld after second appeal

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-05-23 07:29

GUANGZHOU - The Guangdong provincial high people's court on Thursday upheld a lower court verdict sentencing ATM thief Xu Ting to five years' jail.

In November, Xu was given a life sentence for withdrawing 175,000 yuan ($25,000) from a malfunctioning ATM. On March 31, the Guangzhou intermediate people's court commuted the sentence to five years and ordered Xu to return all the money.

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The hearing was the second of two appeals. Xu said he accepted the final ruling.

"It was all my fault, but I hope this never happens to anyone else. Right now, I am just thinking of behaving myself in prison, so maybe I can go home early."

Xu, 24, committed his crime in 2006, in Guangzhou, where he worked as a security guard. After visiting an ATM machine, he discovered that although he had withdrawn 1,000 yuan, his account had been debited by just 1 yuan. He proceeded to make 171 transactions totaling 175,000 yuan. The Guangzhou intermediate people's court sentenced him to life in prison for theft.

However, the sentence sparked an outcry among the public, and several legal experts said the bank should take the bulk of the blame, as it was its machine that had malfunctioned.

The controversy led to Xu launching an appeal and the case was reheard. In contrast to Xu's response to yesterday's ruling, his lawyer Guo Xiangdong said he was not yet satisfied.

"He should not be charged with a criminal offense. He just made a mistake during an e-commerce business transaction, which people, including court officials, know little about," Guo told China Daily.

He said the final ruling will not take effect until it is approved by the Supreme Court.

"We will provide more evidence to the Supreme Court," he said.

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