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Woman beaten to death for stealing in shop
By Liu Dan (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2006-01-26 06:59

Three security guards and a manager were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 13 years after being convicted of assaulting a woman who stole milk powder in a shopping mall in Zengcheng City of South China's Guangdong Province.

On the morning of December 19, 2005, Liu Xiaolan, a 30-year-old woman was caught by security guard Zhang Fengxue when trying to leave the Yingjia Shopping Mall from the non-customer entrance.

Zhang found a bag of milk powder valued at 21 yuan (US$1.5) in Liu's pocket. Zhang held Liu and reported the case to security manager, though Liu was horrified and begged Zhang to let her go.

The magager Lu Liang, together with  guards Wang Jun and Zhang Fengxue, took Liu to a dormitory on the mall's fourth floor and began to beat her with wood blocks and clothes racks until 6:00 pm, during which another guard Huang Chunhua also joined the beating.

The woman confessed her stealing act and begged them to forgive her, but the  "guards" mercilessly continued their criminal assault. Liu was thrown out of the back door of the supermarket after nearly 12 hours of torture.

At around 9:00 pm, local policies received report and rushed to the scene. Liu was sent to the hospital. Nineteen days later, Liu died of cerebral hemorrhage as a result of the beatings.

After Liu's death, Yingjia Shopping Mall signed a compensation agreement with Liu's relatives, promising them a 200,500-yuan (US$24,814) payment.

However, the three guards and the manager could not escape penal responsibility and were all detained by the police.

The Guangzhou intermediate court sentenced the security manager Lu Liang to 13 years in prison, guards Zhang Fengxue and Wang Jun 11 years in prison respectively, and Huang Chunhua 7 years for intentional assault.

The milk powder stealing incident has triggered heated discussions on popular internet chatrooms. Some people blame the female thief deserved the fate, while others express regret and show pity to her.

A reader said in a post on popular website Sohu.com:"I hate thiefs. She deserves it."

However, most of the posters in the chatroom believe that the guards should have sent her to the police.

"After all, shopkeepers have no right to enforce the law. They should find out why that woman stole. For example, if the woman was not a frequent offender, and just had no money to feed her baby, then the guards' acts were even crueler," said a reader.

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