2017-06-23 02:23:48

In one of the most closely watched rulings in recent years, the man who fatally injured a thug who wanted to settle a loan had his life sentence reduced to five years’ imprisonment on Friday.

The Shandong provincial high court, in eastern China, ruled that when defendant Yu Huan attacked four men with a knife in April 2016, he was “stopping an unlawful attack.” But, the court said, Yu did not face an “urgent or serious” situation, and therefore his self-defense was “obviously over the limit.”

The court found Yu guilty of intentional injury, the same crime a lower court had given him a life sentence for in February this year. During the appeal hearing, held on May 27, Yu argued that a 19-year-old could not be expected to know what constitutes appropriate self-defense in a threatening situation.

Yu’s mother, Su Yinxia, had borrowed 1.35 million yuan ($197,000) from a local real estate investor at a steep interest rate. When she struggled to repay her debt, about 10 men showed up at her work, where they confined mother and son in a room. One of the thugs reportedly suggested Du take up prostitution to repay the money, and exposed his genitals to her.

When police arrived at the scene, they stepped outside after only a few minutes, after which Yu grabbed a knife and injured four of the men. The man who harassed Yu’s mother later died from his wounds.

After media reported on Yu’s life sentence, public discussion mostly backed Yu — saying he was only defending his mother’s honor — and questioned whether police had handled the case adequately.

On May 26, one day before the appeal hearing, provincial prosecutors announced that the officers in question had failed to effectively control the situation and separate the people involved. Their actions did not constitute negligence, they said, although two police officers were dismissed and several more were disciplined.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: A view of the High People’s Court in Jinan, Shandong province, June 22, 2017. Wang Zirui/VCG)