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Police chief's son gets six years in fatal hit-and-run

By Jo Ling Kent, CNN
The case of Li Qiming, a police official's son accused of a deadly hit-and-run in Baoding, is a hot Web topic in China.
The case of Li Qiming, a police official's son accused of a deadly hit-and-run in Baoding, is a hot Web topic in China.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Li Qiming, 23, is sentenced to six years' jail for fatal hit-and-run incident
  • Witnesses say he tried to use his father's position as a police official to avoid punishment
  • The case has become a cause celebre in Chinese chatrooms
RELATED TOPICS
  • China

Beijing, China (CNN) -- A Chinese man who killed a college student while driving drunk and then tried to use his father's name as a police official to escape punishment was sentenced to six years' in jail on Sunday, sparking a furious reaction on the internet where the verdict was condemned by many bloggers as too lenient.

The People's Court of Wangdu County in Hebei province sentenced Li Qiming, 23, to six years in jail for "crimes causing traffic casualties," Chinese state-run Xinhua reported.

The verdict comes three months after Li drove a Volkswagen sedan into two college women, killing Chen Xiaofeng, 20, and injuring Zhang Jingjing, also 20, on the campus of Hebei University in the northern Chinese city of Baoding.

Last week, Li pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter.

Li, the son of Li Gang, the deputy director of the Baoding Public Security Bureau, gained national notoriety by reportedly attempting to flee the scene before he was stopped by campus security guards and students.

According to witnesses, he shouted at authorities: "Sue me if you dare! My father is Li Gang!"

The catchphrase "My father is Li Gang" has since gone viral in internet chatrooms where users have expressed outrage over corruption and the preferential treatment meted out to the children of the wealthy and the party elite.

"'This society is too corrupt," wrote user RuRuM on Sina.com's microblogging service Weibo. "This society is too unfair."

"Money is still above the law. Life is cheap if you can pay in cash," said user Olivia_Xuxu.

Another blogger Vincent-88 wrote, "This shows, the words 'my dad is Li Gang" still have a lot of power. The judge only saw Li's father's tears, instead of the tears of the affected families."

Nevertheless, a small minority of bloggers said the verdict indicated progress.

"This is one step forward," said Sina Weibo user Chen Weiyao. "If there wasn't such media exposure, the ruling may not have even happened at all. Of course, the other side is that the ruling wasn't strong enough!"

Li Gang himself did not attend his son's court hearing last week, according to Xinhua.

Li's sentence is less than the 7-year possible maximum for traffic crimes for which he was charged. The criminal charges handed down by the court were also widely considered to be lenient compared with other defendants in China where similar crimes have sometimes carried the death penalty.

According to state-run media, it was acknowledged that Li received a lighter sentence citing his confession to his crimes and compensation provided to the families of the injured and deceased following the accident by Li's family.

Li's parents paid 460,000 yuan (US$69,800) to Chen's family. The other victim, Zhang, who suffered fractured leg, received 91,000 yuan (about US$13,800) in compensation from Li's family.

For many though, the compensation was unconvincing.

"The son of Li Gang being sentenced to only six years because his father compensated the family shows that all you need to do is pay up first. I despise the ruling party," said user Vincent-88.

 
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