China / Hot Issues

Nation mulls end of death penalty for some crimes

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-26 07:42

Court officials said Zeng Chengjie's case was far more serious than Wu's because it led to three episodes of mass disturbance, and also resulted in an investor committing suicide by setting himself on fire.

Yi said depriving someone of their life is too high a price to pay for infringing other people's financial interests: "Capital punishment for economic misbehavior is not equitable to the crime. After all, life is the most precious thing, and the death penalty is irreversible. It isn't possible to reverse an execution in the event that we discover errors in the investigations or trials."

Protecting human rights

Ruan Qilin, a professor of law at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, was of the same opinion. He said the reduction in the number of crimes subject to the death penalty will also serve to better protect human rights.

"Capital punishment will not be abolished in our country in the near future, but the reduction is being pushed forward regardless. Illegal fundraising just damages money, so it's unreasonable to punish the fundraisers by taking their lives," he said.

According to Wang Shaoguang, the lawyer who represented Zeng Chengjie, the charge of illegal fundraising has long been a controversial one "because sometimes the victims didn't pay attention to the funding risks, and simply wanted to make bigger profits.

"Some people were angry after they suffered economic losses, and rushed to ask the government for help, bringing the illegal operations to the attention of the authorities. Of course, the fundraisers defrauded the investors, but in the beginning, those same investors were lured by higher rates of interest and profit, and they failed to pay attention to the risks inherent in fundraising," he said.

"I agree with abolishing the death penalty for this charge, but what I care about more is legal clarification of this crime, whether it is tenable and should actually exist at all," he said, adding that lawyers can learn from observing cases of this nature which will help to improve the law.

"If a fundraiser is sentenced to death, the victims still won't be reimbursed," he said, and urged local governments to mediate with defrauded investors to resolve any conflicts.

"Punishing the fundraiser is just one part of the issue. The other part is working out how to aid the victims and help them to obtain compensation, which would be better for society stability, and would regulate the loan market," he said.

The amendment is likely to be ratified in February or March at the earliest, "and I hope the reduction in the number of crimes subject to capital punishment will boost our criminal law and make punishments scientific and reasonable", Wang added.

Zeng Shan echoed Wang, saying she is looking forward to seeing the revision and an improvement in China's criminal law.

"I'm reluctant to remember the summer of 2013, because I have had to force myself to get my life back on track, but I am following the progress of the proposal very closely," the sales representative from Hunan said.

"I hope those in similar circumstances to my father's won't face such an extreme punishment in the future."

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