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Life sentence for BB gun purchases to be reviewed

By HU MEIDONG/XU WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-20 07:55

A man sentenced to life in prison for buying 24 BB guns online has won an appeal to have his case reheard.

Liu Dawei, 20, was convicted of smuggling the guns from Taiwan after a trial in April last year at the Quanzhou Intermediate People's Court in Fujian province.

On Wednesday, the provincial high court announced it would rehear the evidence, stating that the sentence was "clearly inappropriate". The court initially turned down the appeal in August last year.

"We were more than happy to learn the news," Liu's mother, Hu Guoji, said in a telephone interview.

Hu said she and her husband have visited the high court's offices to petition for their son two or three times per month since October last year. The couple maintains their son is innocent of the charges.

Liu, a native of Dazhou, Sichuan province, purchased the BB guns-pneumatic guns that fire small pellets-from an online seller in Taiwan for 30,540 yuan ($4,700), according to prosecutors at his first trial.

The goods were seized by customs officers in Shishi, Fujian province, and Liu was detained by police for smuggling firearms.

Xu Xin, Liu's attorney, said he was pleased that the effort made by the family has paid off.

"The court will start the trial of the case all over, and I am still going to defend my client as innocent," he said.

One of the key facts regarding the case is whether the 24 BB guns purchased from the Taiwan dealer can be regarded as firearms.

After the trial, the court deemed that 20 of the 24 guns purchased by Liu could lead to injuries and thus they were deemed guns.

The production and sale of imitation firearms is prohibited in China, which bans civilian ownership of weapons.

Xu said his client had no intention of smuggling firearms and had no idea the BB guns would be deemed firearms.

During his trial, Liu reportedly asked the judges to shoot him with one of the BB guns he had purchased. "If I die, I'll admit I'm guilty," he was quoted as saying by Procuratorial Daily.

Xu said the reason his client purchased such a large number of BB guns is that the seller would not agree to the sale unless he purchased a minimum of 20.

"What Liu did was merely an online purchase, and the seller even agreed to pay for the shipping fees. He had no idea how the seller was going to ship the items from Taiwan to the Chinese mainland, or whether they would go through customs clearance," the lawyer said.

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