All suspects apprehended in the case of 13-y-o boy killed by classmates: authority
Published: Mar 18, 2024 05:41 AM
Handcuffs Photo: CFP

Handcuffs Photo: CFP

In a case of the 13-year-old boy who was killed on March 10th, the suspects involved were all captured the next day and taken into custody, the joint working group responsible for the case said on Sunday night. Currently, all aspects of the work are proceeding in an orderly manner.

According to media reports, the case involves a seventh-grade boy Xiao Guang (pseudonym) who was killed and buried by his three classmates of the same age in Handan, North China's Hebei Province. The murdered boy reportedly suffered from long-term school violence.

The local authorities attached great importance to the case, and the public security organs immediately began investigating the case, arresting all the suspects involved in the crime a day after the incident. 

The judicial organs will punish the criminal behavior according to law, the joint working group said in a statement published on Sunday night. Since the accident, relevant departments have been working hard to comfort and assist the families of the victims, and all aspects of the work are proceeding in an orderly manner.

According to the victim's father surnamed Wang, the boy left home at around 1 pm on March 10 and lost contact with his family around 5 pm. The boy's family members searched for him for five hours until 10 pm but there was no sign of his whereabouts. After receiving reports, the police found through surveillance that Xiao Guang was hanging out with three male students, who unanimously denied that they had met the boy.  

Through checking Xiao Guang's WeChat messages, the father found that his son had transferred some money to one of the three suspects. Facing with the evidence of surveillance and money transferring records, the three students admitted that Xiao Guang was buried in an abandoned vegetable shed. 

Wang expressed deep grief when the boy's body was recovered with his face badly destroyed by the shovel, according to the report of Xinhuanghe. Wang was shocked that the three students, aged 13 or 14, were not only suspected of killing his son, but also buried and attempted to damage his body.

Wang said Xiao Guang had previously expressed his reluctance to go to school but the parents did not take it seriously and did not realize that the boy had been bullied for a long time at school.

This case quickly caused a sensation on Chinese social media after being reported by the media outlets. In particular, the stark contrast between the suspects' age and their behaviors in the details of the case has sparked calls to increase punishment for juvenile offenders.

According to media reports, a funeral was held for Xiao Guang in the village on Saturday by his family. During the funeral, his mother was sent to the hospital due to excessive grief.

Professor Luo Xiang from China University of Political Science and Law, who has a massive fan base for his legal opinions among the younger generation, commented on the case on his personal social media on Saturday, stating that for children who "commit heinous crimes," necessary punishment must still be carried out. 

Only through punishment can a transformative effect be achieved, making the individual realize and repent for their crimes, he said. 

According to China's Criminal Law, those over 14 years old but under 16 years old who commit intentional homicide or intentional injury resulting in serious injury or death shall bear criminal responsibility; those over 12 years old but under 14 years old who commit intentional homicide or intentional injury resulting in death or causing serious disability through particularly cruel means, with extremely serious circumstances, shall bear criminal responsibility upon approval of prosecution by the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Wu Shaobo, a lawyer interviewed by China National Radio, said that it is impossible for the suspects in this case to be sentenced to death, as the Criminal Law stipulates that minors cannot be subject to the death penalty. 

Talking about the public outrage over the case, he noted that sometimes, the laws are aimed at safeguarding the minors legitimate rights and interests could fail to protect good children and instead become a "protective shield" for juvenile offenders, a situation which he believes needs to change. 

In recent years, China's legislative bodies have been adapting to the changing situation of juvenile crime. A Criminal Law Amendment passed in December 2020 lowered the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12. "It is this legislative adjustment that has made it more likely for the three juvenile crime suspects in this case to be prosecuted," Wu said. 

According to data released by the Supreme People's Procuratorate, in 2023, the national procuratorial organs approved the arrest of 27,000 juvenile crime suspects and decided not to arrest 38,000 others; they prosecuted 39,000 juvenile crime suspects and decided not to prosecute 40,000 others. However, in recent years, there have been cases of serious crimes committed by minors in China, and a considerable number of them have not been severely punished due to their age, observers noted. 

In the case involving minors, in order to protect the privacy of the victims, the joint working group called on the public to not believe or spread rumors, and avoid causing further harm to the involved families.

Global Times