Transparency needed in Jia’s death sentence controversy

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/24 0:13:40

It has been a week since the Supreme People's Court approved Jia Jinglong's death sentence. The controversial case triggered public uproar after lawyers and scholars voiced suspicions about the execution order.

Jia, a villager from Hebei Province, shot village chief He Jianhua to death with a modified nail gun last February. Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court sentenced Jia to immediate execution in November, which was approved by Hebei Provincial High People's Court this May.

Several legal experts voiced their opposition to the sentence of execution after the order was approved. According to them, He was in the wrong to demolish Jia's home in the first place and Jia was forced to the wall. In addition, Jia had turned himself in, and the death sentence breaches the principle of "killing fewer, killing cautiously," and even deviates from the rule of law.

Forced demolition, the crime of passion and He's poor record are the key words when online public opinion discusses the case. But according to the authorities, the killing was a result of a dispute over compensation, and it was Jia who personally resisted the demolition after his father signed the demolition agreement and received compensation. But public opinion tends to believe in the online story.

Scholars approached by the Global Times view the case differently. While some oppose the execution, others believe that ordinary people and even lawyers are not informed enough to judge the case. According to the latter, there is still doubt over whether the death sentence will be suspended or immediately carried out based on the principle of "killing fewer, killing cautiously."

In addition, the sentence, with a great deal of public attention, may still be open for discussion. Other factors, for instance, sympathy for disadvantaged groups, have also complicated the case.

Although Jia turned himself in, it will not necessarily lead to a suspension of the sentence. Jia deliberately killed He for revenge, and, from this perspective, the sentence may not be suspended.

Ideology may have played a large part in the online opposition to Jia's sentence. An ordinary person who killed a grass-roots official in desperation can easily win sympathy. Therefore, the court should be more cautious with an immediate execution, and be prepared to deal with the public's suspicions. The public, affected by social sentiments, lacks confidence in the court and is suspicious of judicial justice.

Given the online suspicions, the authorities concerned should give more detailed explanations for Jia's case. It would be wise for the authorities to face the issue squarely instead of being concerned about the potential negative effects of doing so.

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