Leniency for Gansu Weibo rumor teen

By Zhang Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2013-9-23 0:58:01

Parents and children watch performance art that criticizes online rumors at Liaocheng University in Shandong Province on August 23, as the performer cuts a board with the words “online rumors.” Photo: CFP


Public security authorities in Gansu Province on Sunday decided to punish the junior high school student who questioned local police on his Weibo with a seven-day detention for administrative infractions.

The 16-year-old, surnamed Yang, from the Zhangjiachuan Hui Autonomous County was detained on Tuesday at school on a criminal charge of "provoking trouble" after suggesting that the investigation by local police into a man's death was problematic.

Local police concluded that the man, who earlier visited at a local karaoke club before being found dead after falling from a high-rise building on September 12, had committed suicide.

Yang doubted the investigation, alleging that the man was murdered and that several relatives of the deceased were detained in an attempt to hide the truth. He said the karaoke club was run by Su Jian, a local court official.

The court denied that Su Jian was their employee, but admitted that the club belongs to the wife of Su Jianzhong, another court official, according to a Thursday Beijing Times report.

The lawyer of the student also claimed on Sunday that the boy is innocent.

"I will plead not guilty for Yang as I believe that what he did doesn't break criminal law. The accusation is totally wrong," Wang Shihua, Yang's lawyer, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Local police in Zhangjiachuan said Friday that the distorted information posted by Yang led to a protest of hundreds of people on September 14, causing traffic jams and severely disturbing public order.

"No signs show a link between the protest and the posts," Wang told the Global Times, adding that he hasn't met Yang so far as the police is stalling a meeting.

If Yang's charge is proved to be true, he might face a sentence of up to five years, read a new judicial interpretation on online rumors.

"Who is entitled to judge whether the information is rumor remains vague," Pi Yijun, professor with the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times, also questioning how police can be so sure that Yang fabricated the information, instead of just spreading it.

Many Net users are outraged by the detention, and they have shown their support by exposing local officials.

A high-ranking local official surnamed Shi was sentenced to 12 years in April for taking bribes of 50,000 yuan ($8,170) from Bai Yongqiang, who has been promoted to the county's police chief after the conviction.

Pictures of the poor county's fancy government building and the county's Party chief Liu Changjiang wearing luxury watches have also been spread online by Net users, triggering wide criticism.

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