Petitioners protest outside court where judges were killed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 June, 2010, 12:00am

Dozens of petitioners protested yesterday outside a courthouse in Yongzhou, Hunan province, where at least three judges were killed.

The demonstration came a day after Zhu Jun, a 46-year-old head of security at a local postal savings bank, burst into the city's Lingling District People's Court carrying two rifles and a pistol and gunned down at least three judges inside an office before killing himself.

Three who were wounded in the attack were undergoing treatment at Yongzhou City People's Hospital, and two were in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of mainland internet users offered condolences to Zhu and praised him as a hero for daring to take on 'notorious judicial officials' instead of doing harm to vulnerable schoolchildren.

Meanwhile, dozens of petitioners took advantage of the city being in the media limelight by going to the district court and trying to have their grievances settled.

Despite pouring rain, they chanted slogans and held placards seeking vindication for the injustices they said they had endured for years.

Some of them attempted to cross the police cordon outside the courthouse. 'I went to the district courthouse yesterday [Tuesday], as soon as I heard about the shootings, some time after 4pm,' Qing Zhao , a petitioner, said yesterday. 'Even then I saw another petitioner there.'

When Qing went to the court again yesterday morning, he saw a middle-aged woman holding a placard and voicing her discontent outside the complex despite heavy rain.

Qing said he was beaten in 2003 by gangsters he suspected had been sent by the principal of the school where he worked as a teacher - possibly a revenge attack after he tried to denounce his boss for taking bribes.

Qing lost vision in one of his eyes as a result of the attack and was in a coma for nearly a month. Medical treatment cost him more than 40,000 yuan (HK$45,600).

'I gave up any hope of petitioning to get justice because I came to realise that it's impossible to rely on officials to solve our problems, so it was worthless and meaningless to petition them for that reason,' Qing said. 'I went to the courthouse for no other reason than to have a look at the other petitioners.'

According to the China News Service, Zhu, the attacker, was disappointed with the local court's handling of his divorce from his wife - particularly the division of property.

But the judges he shot had nothing to do with the case, the report said.

Zhu had reportedly taken two months of leave to rest at home. He did not return to work until Saturday, three days before the killings.