Policeman sentenced to death for shooting

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 12:00am

A former Yunnan police officer has been sentenced to death for fatally shooting a man in an off-duty brawl in February, China News Service reports.

The case triggered a public outcry and questions about whether police were abusing their authority by extending it to personal matters, after the fatal beating of a university student by six off-duty officers outside a pub in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, in November.

After the verdict yesterday in the Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People's Court, defendant Ji Zhongchun, who had worked as a policeman for 21 years, said he would appeal.

In the trial last month, the court heard that on February 13, Ji was driving his car in a residential area while drunk and had an argument with another driver, Pan Jun, 40, when their vehicles nearly collided. After Ji got out of his car, Pan beat and kicked him, injuring his nose. Ji then pulled out his pistol, firing three times and killing Pan. Ji stayed at the scene after the murder and handed his gun to an onlooker.

The court ruled that Ji had committed a serious crime that harmed society, because he was a policeman and had killed someone over a trivial matter. Furthermore, he was carrying his pistol while off duty and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Pan's family clapped and praised the verdict in the courtroom.

Ji's lawyer, Zhang Jiaxing, believed his client should have been jailed for life or given a suspended death sentence because he turned himself in to police after the shooting.

On a Baidu.com bulletin board, netizens said the verdict showed justice had been done, but a Henan netizen said the former officer was unlikely to be executed after the appeal.