Legal pursuit of truth needed in death of Chinese girl in Germany

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-6-1 17:53:01

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

A Chinese student was killed recently in the German city of Dessau-Rosslau. It is unbelievable that a young lady was murdered like this. Bafflingly, judicial procedure and media reports didn't go as they should under the influence of multiple factors, followed by widespread speculations and rumors that discredited the dead, further traumatized her family and disrupted the investigation and prosecution.

According to reports, the victim failed to return from a jog on May 11 and was found dead near her home by local police two days later. Based on their preliminary judgments, police treated it as a criminal case. Two suspects, one male and one female, were arrested on May 23. Allegedly, the female suspect is the man's girlfriend and they both live in the victim's neighborhood. Presently, German police have initiated a criminal investigation.

However, in a press conference about the investigation, the chief prosecutor of Dessau-Rosslau disclosed some unverified sensitive details partially based on the confession of the suspects. Professional or not, such practice is imprudent in terms of morality and justice, considering its practical consequences. Due to the complicated ties the suspects' relatives have with local police, the public began to accuse the prosecutors of stigmatizing the victim and misleading the public.

This issue has aroused extensive attention in both China and Germany. In many follow-up reports from the German side, unverified sensitive content still prevails, some revealing the victim's face. This is undoubtedly inappropriate and inconsiderate and their professionalism becomes questionable. A few media and personal social media accounts made groundless accusations, generating panic among Chinese students going to Germany and their parents.

One would hope that such media attention would accelerate the investigation and prosecution process. Nevertheless, truth from procedural justice is the best consolation for the victim's family. Before the truth comes to light, any reports of unconfirmed information are irresponsible and would hurt the unfortunate family again.

In all fairness, the serious attitude and devotion of German police and the local government is clear in spite of existent doubtful points: They gave up weekends and holidays to accelerate the process; due to the suspects' relatives' ties with the local police, the municipal and state government handed over the case to the police of another federal state and changed the chief prosecutor; politicians in Germany and the German press have urged related authorities to ascertain the facts as soon as possible.

China's embassy in Germany has followed closely the development of the investigation, consoled the victim's family and assisted actively in solving related problems. With the help of the embassy, family members are safeguarding their lawful rights and interests by legal means. The embassy issued a statement a few days ago to thank police for their efforts and devotion and emphasized the need to verify the case as soon as possible and bring the perpetrators to justice. Overseas Chinese in Germany, including Chinese students, took the initiative in searching for related evidence and organized memorial events together with universities and local governments to express their rational appeals through various channels. Under the efforts from all parties, things are developing toward a better direction.

As the bilateral exchanges and cooperation between China and Germany become closer, an increasing number of Chinese nationals have come to Germany for study, investment and travel. The victim's university alone has over 800 Chinese students. The German side is obliged to make them safe and create a good environment.

For this specific case, it is imperative that justice and equity be guaranteed and convincing information and judgment be provided. We hope that the truth comes to light as soon as possible and the criminals will be held accountable according to law.

The girl is gone forever. However, the reflection on this issue has not come to an end. German judicial departments and the media from both countries should conduct deeper self-examination on how to better safeguard procedural justice and the legitimate rights and interests of the victim in line with their professional ethical codes respectively.

This is a commentary of the Xinhua News Agency.

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