A district prosecutor's office in Beijing will appeal against the lenient sentence given to a security guard who raped a petitioner at an illegal detention centre. The Fengtai District People's Court sentenced Xu Jian to eight years behind bars on December 11 for raping a 21-year-old at a hostel in August. The minimum term is 10 years, but the guard received leniency for turning himself in. The sentence was widely considered too lenient and many people voiced their anger on the internet. Juyuan Hotel near South Railway Station is one of many 'black jails' regional governments use to lock up petitioners who come to the capital to air their grievances. Petitioners are often lured into the detention facilities with promises from liaison officials from their hometowns that they will listen to their plight, but languish for days and suffer abuse before being taken away. The woman was raped by the 26-year-old security guard in August. He climbed into her bed while she was sleeping. She was given 2,300 yuan (HK$2,610) in compensation for material losses, but the award did not recognise the trauma she experienced. The central government denies the existence of 'black jails' despite reports by journalists who have visited them and academic research on the subject. An official from Fengtai District People's Procuratorate told the Beijing Times that the sentence was 'appallingly lenient' because Xu should have faced felony charges as the rape occurred in a public place. The fact that the security guard turned himself in should not qualify him for leniency due to the case's social implications, the official said. Chinese Academy of Social Sciences professor Liu Renwen said appeals from prosecutors were not uncommon because the constitution gave them a supervisory role over sentencing. District prosecutors could appeal via a higher prosecutor for a retrial, either in a higher court or a courthouse at the same level, Liu said, adding that the appeal would certainly mean that Xu would get a harsher punishment. The woman and her lawyer did not dispute the sentence, but said they were unhappy with the compensation because it did not reflect the nightmare she had endured. She initially sought 100,000 yuan for medical bills and psychological distress, and she will appeal in a civil suit.