Lawyers rush to halt execution of villager who killed official over demolition

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/23 22:53:39 Last Updated: 2016/10/23 23:48:40

Lawyers rush to halt execution of Hebei villager

Some Chinese legal experts are demanding a halt to the execution of a Hebei farmer who killed his village chief after his house was forcibly demolished. 

Since the Supreme People's Court (SPC) approved the death sentence for Jia Jinglong, a villager in Shijiazhuang, capital of North China's Hebei Province last week, some lawyers have been racing against time to save Jia's life, arguing that certain circumstances should have been considered before passing the death sentence.

According to a copy of the SPC's verdict, Jia bought and modified three nail guns after his house was demolished during the village's reconstruction campaign in 2013, and used them to kill He Jianhua, the village chief, in February 2015 out of revenge.

With the help of Liu Hong, a Ph.D from East China University of Political Science and Law, and lawyer Si Weijiang, Jia's sister, Jia Jingyuan, sent a letter to the SPC and Hebei Provincial High People's Court requesting them to terminate her brother's death sentence.

A number of unidentified people tried to demolish Jia's house 18 days before his wedding day in 2013 and beat Jia when he refused to leave. The house was finally demolished and Jia's fiancée broke up with him. Jia tried in vain to get compensation for the demolition, according to Jia Jingyuan.

The order for his immediate execution sparked a hot debate on Chinese social media, with many saying the penalty was too harsh. Some netizens said they believe Jia's sentence should be commuted because his rights were violated. Reports also said Jia intended to surrender after the killing.

A poll initiated by Xu Xin, a law professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, on his WeChat account showed that 97 percent of over 28,000 respondents oppose the death penalty.

"Normally, the death penalty is carried out within seven days after the SPC returns the final verdict, so time is running out," Liu told Knews, a Shanghai media outlet, on Saturday.

Public opposition to capital punishment may have little influence on the SPC's decision, unless strong legal evidence proves the sentence should be commuted, said Huo Zhijian, a lawyer from the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Sunday. Hu added that the court does not need to consider the fact that Jia's rights were violated.

China strictly controls the death penalty and prudently imposes it, said a white paper in September, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The white paper, New Progress in the Judicial Protection of Human Rights in China, said China's stand on the death penalty is to ensure that it applies only to a very small number of extremely serious criminal offenders.

Newspaper headline: Lawyers rush to halt execution of Hebei villager

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