Last-minute reprieve saves billionaire from gunpoint
By Echo Shan (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2005-11-11 10:32
All lives are equal and invaluable under the
umbrella of the law, right?
In the case against Beijing billionaire Yuan Baojing, life is priced at the
handsome sum of 49.5 billion yuan (US$6 billion).
Reputed to be the "No 1 in the Chinese
Stock Market," Yuan, 39, could have been executed October 14, courtesy of a
death sentence for a murder conviction.
Unexpectedly, however, a last-minute stay of execution reportedly came at a
sky-high price, and he was saved from the ultimate penalty.
In 1997, "inspired" by business partner Wang Xing, then a police officer in a
northeastern city, Yuan suggested that Wang knock off an alleged fraudster who
had caused him a 90-million-yuan loss in futures trade, offering him a booty of
The agreement, which ultimately went unfulfilled, made Yuan and Wang turn
against one another as Wang extorted Yuan repeatedly as a fee for keeping the
failed killing scheme a secret.
A hit man hired by Yuan shot the blackmailer Wang to death near his home in
October 2003. Yuan was convicted on having Wang killed and plotting the murder
of another and sentenced to death by a court in China's northeastern Liaoning
Yuan's wife, Zhuo Ma, a famous danceer and professor with Beijing-based
Central University For Nationalities, and the couple's young son met with Yuan
at the prison after the death sentence was suspended.
"He's doing fine and is in good spirits," she said.
Early in 2003 when Yuan Baojing was convicted, Zhuo Ma became entitled to all
of his assets. She indicated she would now return the money to the State.
"He just wants to return the wealth to the society because of the sincere
gratitude he holds for all it has given him. I am doing this on behalf of my
husband," Zhuo Ma was quoted as saying in the North Morning Post on October 25.
Stipulated in the 342nd article of "The Litigation Law of the People's
Republic of China," only under three conditions can a death penalty be
* There are factual mistakes involved.
* The defense submits crucial new evidence before the
execution. For instance, the defense has important tips and evidence that calls
into question the verdict, leading to a reconsideration of the case.
* The culprit is pregnant.
There are so far no official explanations issued by the judicature
administration concerning Yuan's seemingly ungrounded death reprieve. His family
members also have kept silent when asked why.
The no-comment stance has led the online community to have massive doubts
about the fairness of the legal procedures in the case.
"Money speaks louder than the law," writes one online reader. "It can rewrite
a death sentence. The self-asserted impartial law is in the hands of the super
Yuan made his fortune with the Beijing-based Jianhao
Group and was estimated to be worth more than 3 billion yuan (more than US$371
million) in 1996 at the age 30. He hailed from a rural family in Northeast
China's Liaoning Province and graduated from the China University of political
science and law in Beijing.