Elite Chinese student gets death for 'cruel' crime

 Published: 4/22/2011 9:06:00 AM GMT
Original Cached

BEIJING (AFP) – A Chinese court on Friday sentenced a music student to die for stabbing a woman to death after hurting her in a car crash, a crime that sparked a national debate over China's "rich second generation".

Yao Jianxin was given the death penalty for murder in the northern city of Xian after confessing he killed Zhang Miao fearing the "peasant woman would be hard to deal with" over the accident, the state Xinhua news agency said.

Yao's car reportedly struck Zhang, a part-time cafeteria worker and the mother of a two-year-old son, while she was riding her bicycle late on the night of October 20.

The 26-year-old woman suffered minor injuries but instead of helping her, Yao, 21, stabbed her eight times with a knife as she eyed his car number plate.

Yao, a student at the Xian Conservatory of Music, fled the scene but was later caught.

The crime has prompted hand-wringing over the country's so-called "rich second generation."

The term is applied to the wealthy offspring of people who prospered thanks to China's economic opening of the past 30 years -- youths seen as expecting privilege and sometimes lacking in morals.

It follows another notorious incident involving a 23-year-old man, Li Qiming, who was sentenced to six years in prison in January after attempting to exploit his father's senior police rank to flee a fatal drink-driving accident.

After running over two young women on a college campus in north China, killing one, he shouted, "my father is Li Gang," and dared onlookers to try to stop him leaving the scene.

Last month, state television carried an interview with Yao, who tearfully apologised to the victim and her family -- provoking outrage in the media and online at what was viewed as a sympathetic portrayal of the killer.

In its judgement on Yao, the court said his crime was "extremely despicable... and extremely cruel," and warranted the death penalty despite his confession and expressions of remorse, Xinhua said.

Yao also was ordered to pay Zhang's family 45,000 yuan (about $7,000) in compensation. The court was unavailable for comment when contacted by AFP.

Yao can appeal the sentence, but it was unclear whether he would do so.

In a statement on its website, the Xian Conservatory of Music said it supported the court verdict and pledged to improve the legal education of its students.

News reports said Yao's family was not especially wealthy, but that both his parents worked for companies in China's defence industry, which has boomed in recent years as the country has rapidly modernised its military.

Reaction to Friday's verdict was mixed in web postings, with some saying Yao's actions could be a result of the huge pressure to succeed heaped on many youngsters by their parents, sometimes at the expense of moral values.

"One has to blame the education methods used by Yao's parents -- how could they have brought up such a son?" said one netizen on's popular microblog.

"What are the values and life concepts they instilled in him? Chinese parents should learn lessons from this."

Another blogger from eastern China's Shandong province was more emphatic, saying: "We should not waste a bullet on executing this guy. He deserves to die by the knife -- repeated and slow cuts for three days and three nights."

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