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Judge jailed for 'lenient sentence' of rapist
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-06 08:42

The chief judge of a court who sentenced a county public security official to just three years in prison for the rape of a 14-year-old girl was arrested for alleged dereliction of duty on Friday in East China's Fujian Province.

The judge, surnamed Ruan, was presiding judge of the criminal division of the Zhouning County People's Court.

Last month, he sentenced Chen Changchun, vice-director of the Zhouning County Public Security Bureau in Fujian Province, for raping a teen-aged girl in May 2001 during an"investigation" into whether the child had been sexually violated by another man 22 days earlier.

Chen allegedly tried to cover up the incident, ordering his driver and three other people to lie to authorities concerning his whereabouts.

In addition, he is suspected of using 5,000 yuan (US$600) to bribe the 14-year-old girl and her mother to keep them from reporting the incident.

Legal experts say the judge's lenient sentence in the case is a legal flaw.

According to Chinese Criminal Law, anyone who uses violence and force in a rape should be sentenced to imprisonment of three years to 10 years.

Sterner sentence

The law also prescribes that those who use violence or bribe witnesses to keep them from testifying truthfully can be sentenced to imprisonment of at most three years. When the circumstances are of a serious nature, the sentence can be as long as seven years.

Those in positions holding legal authority who commit crimes can be given even stiffer punishments.

China Youth Daily said Chen's behaviour is suitable for sterner penalties, with Ruan's sentencing on the count of rape too light.

Furthermore, the three years for rape and preventing testimony should have been greater than the maximum punishments, the paper said.

The judge had indicated the reason he delivered the lighter sentence is that the accused stopped the rape when the victim claimed she was suffering.

Prosecutors believed that argument was a ruse, designed to mislead the court and public. Ruan commented that Chen's wife, who is on the financial staff of the court, went to him and begged him to give Chen a lighter punishment

"And I did so," he said.

In response to the appeal from local procuratorate, the Ningde Intermediate People's Court later increased Chen's punishment, handing down a sentence of 12 years.

Chen was arrested in November last year in Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, by local police after he fled the area when the girl reported she had been raped.

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