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Death penalty possible in fatal arson case

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-21 09:11
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A man is facing the death penalty after admitting to starting a fire that killed 18 people in a karaoke bar in Guangdong province in April.

Liu Chunlu, 32, was prosecuted on charges of intentional homicide and arson during a public hearing on Thursday in a court in Yingde.

The court heard that Liu arrived at the bar on Chayuan Road with friends on the evening of April 23 for a night of singing and drinking.

While there, the defendant expressed his fondness for a female staff member, surnamed Zhang, but she rejected him, according to the indictment, which was published online.

He had also failed to reach a business deal after negotiating with another man at the bar, which he blamed on interruptions by someone identified as the venue's manager, it added.

In anger, Liu went to his motorcycle, which was parked by the entrance of the karaoke bar, disconnected its fuel pipe and spread gasoline around on the ground. He then used a cigarette lighter to set the fuel ablaze, despite his friends attempts to stop him, the indictment said.

Flames quickly spread to other motorcycles, blocking the exit of people inside the bar. Fifteen men and three women died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Three other people were injured, one of them seriously.

Liu fled the scene but was caught by police on April 24.

During Thursday's hearing, a tearful Liu confessed to the charges, Nanfang Metropolis Daily reported on Sunday.

The court has yet to issue a verdict. The charge of intentional homicide carries the death penalty in China.

The trial was witnessed by relatives of both the defendant and the victims as well as political advisers, local media representatives, residents and others.

Liu Xiangfu, the head prosecutor who tried the case, said Liu's crime was grievous, as many people were killed.

"He committed intentional arson and caused serious casualties and big economic losses," he told the court. "The facts are very clear, and the defendant should be held responsible for his crimes and punished."


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