• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 12:07pm

Death sentence overturned in 'landmark' Chinese domestic violence case

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 11:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 4:32am

China's supreme court has overturned the death sentence of a woman convicted of killing her husband after she endured months of domestic abuse, a member of her family said.

The US-based rights group the Dui Hua Foundation hailed the court's decision as "a landmark ruling with far-reaching implications for survivors of domestic violence".

The Supreme People's Court reversed its approval of the death sentence given to 43-year-old Li Yan from Sichuan , her brother Li Dehuai said.

He said he had first learned of the ruling in a letter sent by his sister from prison.

"A court official told me the verdict was returned sometime in May," Li Dehuai said.

Li added he did not know why the court had made the surprise decision or when the court in Sichuan would schedule a retrial.

Li Yan's conviction became a landmark case in a decade-long campaign for comprehensive legislation on domestic violence.

Her husband, Tan Yong, had beaten Li, extinguished cigarettes on her face and locked her out on their balcony in winter, according to the defence lawyer's earlier statements.

In November 2010, a drunken Tan threatened to shoot Li with an air rifle, then he beat and kicked her. She hit him over the head with the gun barrel, accidentally killing him.

Li then dismembered the body. She was arrested after a friend she confided in about the killing informed the police.

John Kamm, the founder and director of the Dui Hua Foundation, said: "In China, if a woman is repeatedly abused and kills the man reacting to the abuse, she will be sentenced to death," he said. "This ruling reverses the trend. I don't think the [Sichuan] High Court will sentence Li Yan to death again. She will not be executed."



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This article is now closed to comments

No matter how one looks at it, this is a difficult case to adjudicate.

Here is my suggested solution based on the ancient wisdom of 包青天. For justice sake, Sichuan authorities should break it into two separate charges if they want to reopen this case.

For the killing of her husband, Li Yan would likely be prosecuted again with a manslaughter charge somewhat similar to Hong Kong's criminal statute. Clearly, the defense will stick to previous arguments of extreme spousal abuse and self-defense. For fair-minded jurists an jurors, there is likely to be an acquittal.

The second charge should be destroying criminal evidence. The best defense is that given the trauma and extreme duress at the accidental killing of her husband, her actions to dispose his body were reflexive from extreme duress. Under the circumstances of the first charge, this reasonable argument could garner a light sentence for this lesser charge.

Rule of law and justice served are more important than inflexible penal codes if we want a better society. Here I am trying to play both prosecution and defense in the Chinese tradition as opposed to demand for blood letting often seen in the English adversarial system.

Kindliness 仁 and sympathy 惻忍之心 are even more important because they are Chinese and Hong Kong core values. Are you listening, Anson Chan with her sycophantic British values?

China must give up death sentence permanently.
Omitted here is that the lady went to the police to complain and they never did anything. Who deserves to go to prison are the officials. Ultimately they are to blame for what happened. Domestic violence is a big problem in China and women are left without protection.
This woman deserves the death penalty, if only for chopping up her husband after intentionally killing him. Intentional homicide may not be sufficient grounds for the death penalty, but what she did afterwards is.
If this article gives the reader the idea that the brutal CCP is fair in any way, remember that it offers its people no human rights whatsoever. The Chinese Communist Party is a gangster regime that has murdered eighty million of its own people since 1949. It offers its people no human rights whatsoever. Right now it is attempting the genocide of the tens of millions of innocent Falun Gong who live in Mainland China. Atrocities such as torture, slavery, organ harvesting and murder are being committed every day and the Western media says nothing because of corporate greed. The weak U.N. even appointed the blood-thirsty CCP a seat on its Human Rights Council this year. Shameful. Money doesn't talk, it screams. Thank you for your concern.
Following your logic, then the US & the west is more of a gangster (more a monster) for murdering 100 of millions of civilians in other people's country by invasion & colonization.
did she really need to chop off the body? just burn the SOB girl!
So pleased Ms Li has been spared the death sentence for what has been recognized as an act of self defence. What about the fate of other victims of domestic violence - doesn't seem as though there is any real change to this opaque system or the lack of support for victims of domestic violence.
She deserves a medal for killing that scumbag.
A small but important step!
It is a tragedy but I feel that the Supreme People's Court made the right call. If she was endured domestic abuse then shooting her husband while he threatened or abused her should be considered self defense.




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