Man who fatally stabbed wife during divorce cooling-off sentenced to death
Published: Apr 25, 2024 11:14 PM
divorce Photo: CFP

divorce Photo: CFP

A man who killed his wife during their divorce cooling-off period was given a death penalty in the first trial by a court in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province on Thursday. 

Two weeks after submitting their divorce application, the 36-year-old victim surnamed Zhou was stabbed to death by her 37-year-old husband Zhao Liuchao outside an industrial park in July 2023, despite being accompanied by six relatives and friends at the time. 

The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court announced the verdict of the first trial against the defendant in accordance with the law. Zhao was sentenced to death for the crime of intentional homicide and deprived of his political rights for life. 

According to the victim’s younger sister Zhou Mei (pseudonym), after the verdict was pronounced, the judge asked the defendant whether he had anything to say on the verdict and the defendant asked the judge whether he would be immediately executed. After he was given an affirmative answer, he said he did not intend to kill his wife on purpose and was taken away, the Xiaoxiang Morning News reported on Thursday. 

Zhao and Zhou were married in 2011 and they applied for divorce at the marriage registration office of the local civil affairs bureau in Pingyu county, Central China’s Henan Province on July 7, 2023. On the evening of July 30, 2023, the victim was accompanied by six relatives and friends and met the defendant outside of a local industrial park. 

When the defendant arrived at the meeting place, he rushed to the victim and took out a knife to stab her and the other people, leading to the death of the victim and other four people being wounded. 

According to the court, the defendant deliberately and illegally deprived others of their lives, resulting in one death, and four other people suffering minor injuries. His actions have constituted the crime of intentional homicide. 

Zhao displayed a high degree of subjective malignancy, employed cruel means in committing the crime, and caused severe consequences, thus, he should be severely punished, the court concluded.

According to reports, the victim was born in Leizhou, South China’s Guangdong Province in 1987. In 2008, the two people got married and had a son and a daughter. In Jul 7, 2023, the couple applied for divorce in Henan and Zhou returned to Guangzhou for work. 

According to Zhou’s younger sister, the defendant appeared to remain calm, agreed to get divorced and signed the divorce agreement during the first week of the cooling-off period before divorce. 

However, Zhao soon regretted his actions and asked Zhou to meet again. Since the defendant’s attitude was very volatile, Zhou was worried that the defendant would exhibit violent behaviors. So, Zhou went to the appointment in the company of her younger sister, elder brother and four other male friends. 

According to Guangzhou Municipal People’s Procuratorate, Zhou filed for divorce due to her husband’s long-term domestic violence with the civil affairs bureau in Henan. After Zhou returned to Guangzhou, Zhao repeatedly threatened Zhou over phone for a meeting and threatened to kill her family. 

According to Zhou’s younger sister, the results of Zhao’s psychiatric assessment showed that he had no mental issues. 

The divorce cooling-off period was introduced as part of the first-ever Civil Code in China on January 1, 2021. It requires couples to wait a month after reaching a settlement and then go together to collect their divorce certificates. 

The policy sparked heated discussion after release, with some questioning whether extending and complicating the process of divorce is a right path to take for a broken marriage. 

Experts noted that the cooling-off period only applies to the circumstances of the divorce agreement but not the litigation, in which the victims of domestic violence need to seek to their own protection in court.

Global Times