Trial opens on death, 'rape' of teacher
The trial of a man implicated in the death of Huang Jing, a 21-year-old primary school teacher whose naked body was found in her dormitory last year, opened yesterday.
The case was heard in closed session at the local court of Yuhu District of Xiangtan, a city in Central China's Hunan Province.
Huang Jing, a primary school teacher, was found dead in the morning of February 24, 2003. Her naked body had numerous bruises and a lot of semen-stained tissues were found scattered on the floor.
Her boyfriend, Jiang Junwu, is suspected in the death. He is charged with raping Huang but voluntarily stopping partway through - a charge that carries a lighter penalty than actual rape.
Jiang, an official with the local taxation administration, admitted that he stayed in her room that night and tried to have sex with Huang, who turned him down. Jiang said they only took off their upper garments and touched each other.
He told a local newspaper that he did not kill her or act violently.
Three tests done by local police and a further test by the provincial police after the body was found seemed to corroborate his story. They all concluded Huang died of a heart attack.
But that answer was not good enough for the victim's mother, Huan Shuhua, who spent months calling for a more detailed investigation and questioning the lack of information available about her daughter's death.
Huang Shuhua said her daughter did not have any heart condition and the tests did not explain the bruises all over her body. She repeatedly asked police to investigate further and claimed her daughter died a violent death.
She also had an independent investigation done on the body by medical experts, who concluded that there was no evidence to back the heart attack theory.
From the get-go, the investigation has raised questions, specially after news of the case spread through Internet chat rooms and websites.
Evidence has gone missing and some of the victim's vital organs have been destroyed. The investigation started in August, 2003.
Since then, a number of strange development have tainted the investigation in the public's eyes. Huang's body, which should have been preserved, started to decompose. Some of her organs, such as the heart, were burnt. Her medical records have also gone missing.
This week, when the case was first heard, the local court moved to hold the case behind closed doors.
"The case, which has a lot of unclear facts and very wide social influence, absolutely should be heard in public," said Chen Weipin, a criminal law expert from Beijing-based Renmin University of China.
The only details that have been released are that Huang's parents have demanded 2.14 million yuan (US$260,000) in compensation.
The court has also rejected an application from the lawyer of the victim's family to include the experts who examined the body in the proceedings.
"It is ridiculous that these doctors would not bear witness at the court in this case in which medical expertise is full of questions," Chen said.