China / Government

High court reviewing sentence in poisoning

By Zhang Yi (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-28 07:49

Student convicted of killing roommate by spiking drinking water with toxic chemical

The nation's highest court is reviewing a death penalty case involving a 28-year-old medical student convicted of killing his roommate with poison despite his claims that it was an April Fools' Day prank that went wrong.

Lin Senhao, a student at Fudan University in Shanghai, was sentenced to death in February 2014 for the murder of his roommate and classmate Huang Yang, who died of liver, kidney and lung failure more than two weeks after falling ill.

The Supreme People's Court conducted a two-hour, closed-door inquiry on Tuesday with Lin's lawyer, Si Weijiang. Si said the court had questioned Lin in Shanghai before the inquiry, as required by the review.

The court, which listened to his presentation and asked questions, was likely to announce its decision in a couple of months, Si said.

"The judge asked me if the defendant admitted the fact that Huang drank the water poisoned by him," Si said, adding this was the most notable question of the inquiry.

He said he told the court that Huang only had one sip of water and the dose of poison was not enough to kill a person. He said Huang's death might have just been a coincidence. He also cited a lack of justifiable cause for the death sentence.

The case grabbed the media spotlight and sparked a nationwide debate because of Lin's status as a medical student at the prestigious Shanghai medical school.

He admitted at trial that he spiked Huang's dormitory drinking water with the toxic chemical N-Nitrosodimethylamine, which he had taken from the Zhongshan hospital laboratory in March.

Huang drank from the dispenser on April 1, 2013, vomited and went to the Zhongshan hospital the next day. During his treatment, Lin did a medical check on Huang and reportedly reassured Huang that he was fine.

Prosecutors had rejected Lin's story, arguing that Lin held a grudge against Huang and poisoned him as an act of revenge.

After Lin was sentenced to death, he appealed the trial court verdict, which a higher court upheld on Jan 8.

Under criminal law, the top court must review all death sentences.

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