Court to reach verdict for ATM theft case

Updated: 2008-03-31 15:14

GUANGZHOU  -- A south China court is expected late on Monday to announce its findings from the retrial of a migrant worker who was sentenced to life in prison for taking 175,000 yuan (24,400 US dollars) from a faulty ATM machine.

A source from the Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou confirmed that Monday's rehearing of the case of Xu Ting, 24, was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m..

Xu Ting, a native of Linfen City, Shanxi Province of north China, used to work in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, was working as a security guard in April 2006.

While withdrawing cash from the ATM, Xu realized it had only deducted one yuan (13 US cents) from his account for every 1,000 yuan withdrawn. He mentioned this to a friend surnamed Guo.

Xu subsequently withdrew 175,000 yuan in 171 transactions while Guo withdrew 18,000 yuan.

Guo was jailed for a year after turning himself in. Xu remained on the run for a year before being apprehended and sentenced to life for the theft.

The verdict of the 24-year-old's first trial sentence last year sparked an outcry from media and legal experts alike. Many people said Xu did not deserve such a severe punishment.

The Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou was told by the Guangdong Provincial Higher People's Court last month to rehear the case. It said the November ruling lacked evidence and some facts needed clarification.

A retrial was conducted February 22 at the Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou, when prosecutors insisted on charging Xu with stealing from a bank while the accused's lawyers protested their client was not guilty.

The court deferred its decision.

In order to be present at Monday's rehearing, Xu Cailiang, Xu Ting's father, flew into Guangzhou late on Sunday.

"What concerns me most is the term of the imprisonment, but I am confident they won't sentence my son to life this time," said the father. "The retrial itself suggested the previous ruling was not fair."

Yang Zhenping, Xu Ting's lawyer, said he was prepared to continue to defend Xu Ting's innocence in court.

Yang, however, feared Xu junior might be found guilty of larceny if the court insisted on a ruling based on final legal interpretation from the Supreme Court and if so, he would be sentenced to five to seven years in jail.

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