No justice in court of public opinion

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-8-29 0:33:01

Sunglasses-covered Meng Ge, mother of Li Tianyi, a PLA singer general's son charged with gang rape, left the Haidian District Court in Beijing on Monday. Li Tianyi didn't show up. Li Tianyi, the 17-year-old son of Li Shuangjiang, a famous singer in the People's Liberation Army, is accused along with four others of raping a girl at a hotel in Beijing in February. His lawyer insisted that Li plead not guilty. (Photo Source:

Li Tianyi, along with other four suspects who are charged with raping a girl in a Beijing hotel, stood at a closed-door trial in a Beijing court yesterday. Li's trial is probably one of the most high-profile cases this year. It has to be pointed out that such a lot of attention is not normal, but it is understandable.

In contrast to the Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun cases, which are closely connected with China's anti-corruption efforts, Li's case, by its very nature, is an ordinary criminal case. What's more, considering that some of the suspects are minors, reports should remain low key.

However, Li's case has been given extensive attention since it was first reported by the media. Actually, the real target of public opinion is not Li himself, but his parents, prominent army singers enjoying a high social status, whose family is seen as a symbol of the benefits reaped by taking advantage of social injustice.

Public outrage has poured forth, using Li's case as an outlet. People cannot stop asking why this young man can live his life with silver spoon in his mouth, and why he never mended his ways despite being detained in 2011 over a road rage accident, and why Meng Ge, Li's mother, is utilizing every means to "exonerate" her son, even though it means she is going against public opinion.

It seems that a powerful and emotional voice has gained momentum, asking for a severe verdict for Li, which they think will make Li's parents pay a high price.

Li's case has not only become a predicament for his family, but, to some extent, has become a way to vent complaints and anger over injustice. This family has also been subject to numerous rumors, which are cooked up by some people who think this lone case is not enough to "relieve" their anger. They need more outlets to vent such emotions.

Although it is a closed-door trial, public opinion has already encircled the court. Law enforcement is facing unparalleled pressure from the public.

On this occasion, it doesn't seem possible to call for the media to reduce their coverage of this case because minors are involved.

It is also impossible to make the public notice that the court, according to the law, will give a lighter punishment to minors. Public opinion has already decided the "nature" of Li's case. People are keen to see him receive a heavier punishment.

Public attention on this trial needs to be analyzed and researched, but its influence should be limited to within the scope of society and the government. As to the court, the only thing it should keep in mind is that Li's case should be judged in complete accordance with the law. The court should forget whose son Li is.

Li's trial shows that in China, a lot of factors are influencing, or at least trying to influence legal judgments. Administrative power and public opinion are consecutively making that influence. The independence of the judiciary is still the biggest challenge when facing these eye-catching cases.

Posted in: Editorial

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