Students face prosecution in murder case

Updated: Apr 9, 2024 China Daily Print
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Three suspected of killing classmate will be held criminally responsible

Three students suspected of killing their classmate in Handan, Hebei province, will face prosecution, provincial prosecutors said on Monday.

The prosecution was approved after review by China's top procuratorate, which means that the judicial process will continue in line with the Chinese Criminal Law and the three are expected to face criminal liability.

A Grade 7 student surnamed Wang was killed in Feixiang district of Handan on March 10, and the next day three suspects surnamed Zhang, Li and Ma were captured by local police, according to the Hebei Provincial People's Procuratorate.

The case has sparked heated discussions on juvenile offenses. Some Chinese media outlets previously said that the body of the victim was found buried in a vegetable greenhouse in Feixiang's Zhangzhuang village, about 100 meters from the house of one of the suspects.

On March 19, Feixiang police told China Central Television that the killing was premeditated, saying that no evidence was discovered that indicated the involvement of adults.

The police added that the suspects dug a hole in the greenhouse over two days, March 9 and 10, to bury the body.

On March 21, the district's public security department transferred the case to local prosecutors to decide whether to prosecute.

After the review, prosecutors concluded that the three minors should be held criminally responsible, as they were between 12 and 14 years old, and the circumstances of the case were severe, the procuratorate said.

Children aged 12 to 14 can be held criminally liable for intentional killing by extremely cruel means, or intentional injury that leads to death or severely disables others, but the law stresses that the decision to prosecute must be approved by the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

"Lowering the age of criminal liability to 12 in special circumstances has provided a legal channel to fight serious and violent offenses committed by very young individuals," said He Ting, a law professor at Beijing Normal University.

"The adjustment in age was made considering new situations and problems of juvenile delinquency," he explained.

But he noted that imposing penalties is the last resort in handling juvenile crimes, emphasizing that whether to prosecute or punish minors should be determined by the specific circumstances in each case.

According to him, the SPP has prudently reviewed every child-related report submitted by lower prosecuting authorities nationwide since the amended law came into effect in March 2021.

While approving the prosecution of young suspects whose alleged serious and violent actions meet the criteria, the SPP also offers rehabilitation and education to those without approval, and provides help and protection for minor victims, he said.

He pointed out that combatting juvenile crimes is a complex and systematic job, "meaning the problem cannot be completely resolved only by criminal punishment," he said, calling for greater effort to strengthen the graded intervention, correction and prevention of juvenile delinquent behaviors.

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