'Hero' status for murderer sparks online controversy

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/21 15:03:39

Man allegedly killed three men in act of revenge for mother’s death

A huge controversy has erupted online after a man from China's Shaanxi Province, who allegedly killed three men on Lunar New Year's eve, was hailed a "hero" for taking revenge over the death of his mother.

The suspect, Zhang Koukou, 35, allegedly stabbed and killed neighbors Wang Zixin, 71, and his two sons, Wang Zhengjun, aged 39, and 47-year-old Wang Xiaojun, on February 15 in Wangping village, Hanzhong, Shaanxi. Zhang turned himself in on Saturday, according to the local government press office.

Police are still investigating. Zhang's attorney Yin Qingli told the Global Times that he is expecting to meet Zhang in prison on Thursday.

Zhang's case has been widely connected with another one 22 years ago, when Zhang's mother died after being hit on the head with a wooden stick by Wang Zhengjun in 1996.  Zhang was 13  when he witnessed his mother's death.

Wang Zhengjun, then aged 17, was sentenced to seven years in jail for deliberately injuring Zhang's mother. The verdict only required Wang Zhengjun's father to pay Zhang's family 9,639 yuan ($1,519) for their loss.

According to the local court, the verdict took into account Wang family's financial difficulties and Wang Zhengjun's age at the time of the crime.

The High People's Court in Shaanxi has entrusted a local collegial panel to hold a discussion on the original case, The Beijing News reported Wednesday.

Yin told the Global Times that he plans to read the court records on the death of Zhang's mother first. If suspicions are raised, he will file an appeal for Zhang's family.

Zhang's father told thepaper.cn that he had complained to the Intermediate People's Court in Hanzhong. His father asked Wang's family to pay 42,000 yuan in compensation and demanded the death penalty for the killer. However Zhang's father did not appeal the verdict at the time, according to the local government press office on Wednesday. 

Zhang's sister, who also witnessed the death of her mother, claimed that it was Wang Fujun, the second son of Wang Zixin, that had killed her mother, but the family made Wang Zhengjun, the underage child, take responsibility instead, thepaper.cn reported.

When the murder was first made public, online comments made Zhang out to be a "hero" for taking revenge for his mother's death.

The discussions are gradually becoming rational as more details have been revealed. Fewer people are praising Zhang's behavior and more people are condemning his violent crime, said Liu Changsong, a Beijing-based lawyer.

Zhang quit school and joined the armed police force in 2001 and later worked in Argentina and several regions of China, including Xinjiang, thepaper.cn reported.

Newspaper headline: Controversy over ‘hero’ status for murderer

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