Suspended death sentence for killing street inspector
A Beijing roadside vendor received a suspended death sentence for fatally stabbing an urban management officer in a case that has attracted widespread attention about the notorious methods of street inspectors.
In a decision handed down yesterday, Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court found Cui Yingjie from Hebei province guilty of intentionally killing Li Zhiqiang in the Zhongguancun area on August 11 last year.
Li and several other officers had tried to confiscate Cui's tricycle from which he sold sausages without a licence.
The court found that Cui used force to interfere with the officers' attempts to carry out their duties but it decided not to sentence him to death out of 'consideration of Cui's specific circumstances and the degree of social harm'.
Cui's parents and representatives from Li's employer, the Beijing Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau of Comprehensive Administration, were in court for the decision but the hearing was closed to the media.
Cui's parents wept as they left the courtroom, and his father, Cui Ruiwu , said he was concerned about his son's potential for self-harm.
'I hope he can cherish his life, bear the pressure, the destiny imposed on him, and keep living for his parents,' he said. 'As long as he can live one more day, we will be happy for one more day.'
He said he was not sure whether to appeal against the decision.
Representatives from the urban management office did not comment.
Urban management officers have broad duties ranging from penalising illegal vendors to managing the demolition of illegal structures, but their role as de facto law enforcement officers has no basis in legislation.
They have long been criticised for their arbitrary and sometimes crude enforcement methods, and conflict with hawkers is often intense.
Mao Shoulong , a professor at Renmin University's School of Public Administration, said changes needed to be made to city management, including opening up areas to street vendors. 'Hawkers should not be banned, but they should be managed,' he said.
Professor Mao said underprivileged people resorted to peddling to make a living because there was a lack of other jobs and a demand for their services.
Cities are changing their approach to hawkers, with Shanghai and Chongqing announcing they will allow street vendors to operate in certain areas.
The Beijing municipal government is drafting an urban management regulation to spell out the duties, power limits and methods of its officers.