China / Society

Man gets life sentence for stabbing doctors

By Zhou Huiying in Harbin and Wang Qingyun in Beijing (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-20 07:51

A teenager who fatally stabbed a doctor and injured three others at a hospital in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

On Friday, Li Mengnan, 18, was found guilty of intentional homicide by the Intermediate People's Court of Harbin. He was also ordered to pay more than 680,000 yuan ($107,800) to the victims' families, in compensation.

Man gets life sentence for stabbing doctors

Li Mengnan, 18, stands trial at a court in Harbin on Friday for fatally stabbing a doctor and injuring three others in March. Li was sentenced to life imprisonment for intentional homicide. Jia Jinxuan / for China Daily

Li, from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, went to the No 1 Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University six times with his grandfather for treatment of a spinal problem. After diagnosing Li with a spinal inflammation in April, the hospital also found he was suffering from tuberculosis. It said he should first be treated for TB before it could treat the spinal problem.

Li and his grandfather went to the hospital for the last time on March 23. The hospital again suggested that treatment for the inflammation be halted until the TB was cured. Li thought the hospital was refusing him treatment for his spinal condition.

In the afternoon, Li fatally stabbed Wang Hao, an intern, and injured three other doctors in the rheumatology department. He had never met Wang before.

Wang Dongqing, Wang Hao's father, said he accepted the verdict. "Justice has been done for my son," he said.

Wei Liangyue, one of Li's lawyers, said he had expected that the sentence would be no more than 15 years' imprisonment.

"Li told his grandfather that he killed and injured the doctors. He didn't resist when the police came for him. Thus he intended to give himself up to the police," said Wei. "Also, one needs to consider that the repeated trips between his hometown and Harbin for treatment had made him angry."

Li Fangping, the other defending lawyer, said on July 25 when the local court in Harbin heard the argument that the hospital had made mistakes when treating Li, and that a doctor may have discriminated against him as he also had TB.

However, the local court dismissed those arguments.

"Li misunderstood the doctor's advice, and bought a knife beforehand to vent his dissatisfaction. He killed and hurt several medical workers ... and caused serious danger to society. The court does not accept the argument that the hospital made mistakes and that Li's sentence should be lightened," the court said in a written statement after announcing the verdict.

It also dismissed the argument that Li gave himself up to police because he fled the scene and did not inform the police. The statement said that on the day of the murder, Li returned to the hospital for treatment of injuries and one of the victims saw him and called the police.

Li could not be given the death sentence as he was under 18 when he committed the crime, the statement said.

Li's uncle, Li Chunming, said he did not agree with the court's verdict of life imprisonment, and plans to appeal.

Li Chunming said he was sorry for what his nephew did, but the family is unable to pay the compensation.

Lawyer Li Fangping said the family owes tens of thousands of yuan in debt.

Li Huijuan, a lawyer for the victims, said: "We knew from the start that his family was not able to pay, and we haven't expected them to. The compensation claim is more of a comfort to the victims' families. But it cannot compensate for their loss."

Days after the murder, Ling Feng, head of the neurosurgery department at Beijing-based Xuanwu Hospital, said in an interview with China Central Television that the attack reflects the seriousness of the mistrust between hospitals and patients. "The confrontation between hospitals and patients has many causes. The lapse of government policies, the misleading reports by news media, the lack of trust in society, the widened income gap, the lack of human care from some doctors, and the lack of related legal prescriptions are all to blame for the confrontation," said Ling.

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