News / Asia

Son of Chinese General on Trial for Rape

Li Tianyi and his father Li Shuangjiang, a general of the Chinese People's Liberation Army who gained fame singing revolutionary songs, at Li Tianyi's solo concert in Beijing, August 19, 2011.
Li Tianyi and his father Li Shuangjiang, a general of the Chinese People's Liberation Army who gained fame singing revolutionary songs, at Li Tianyi's solo concert in Beijing, August 19, 2011.
VOA News
Just days after the end of the Bo Xilai trial, one of China's most public political cases in decades, another trial in Beijing is highlighting the legal troubles of China's elite.
 
On Wednesday, the teenage son of two famous People's Liberation Army singers appeared at his first hearing on charges that he participated in the gang rape of a woman in a hotel in the capital last February.

Li Tianyi and four other defendants are accused of having forced a drunk woman from a bar to a hotel for sex. After the woman refused to take off her clothes, the five men allegedly beat and raped her.

During the trial Li pleaded not guilty, saying he was drunk at the time of the alleged rape.
 
The case has sparked an outcry in China since the news media published Li's name.

Public outcry
 
Public opinion has been sharply critical of the 17-year-old, who many perceive as an out-of-control guanerdai, or “second generation official.”
 
Beijing Institute of Technology law professor Xu Xin says such public resentment is understandable, as many in China link the politically connected class to the economic inequality that weighs on the country.
 
“There are many grievances about today's society which are often directed to the corrupt and rich,” Xu said.
 
Because he is a minor and because of the sexual nature of the crime, Li's trial is not open.
 
Yet on Wednesday, many online news portals in China published real-time updates from outside the courtroom, underscoring the deep interest with which Chinese people are following the case.
 
Li's mother, Meng Ge, a famous PLA singer, arrived at the court shortly before the trial began but did not speak to journalists.
 
Li Shuangjiang, the defendant's father, is a PLA singer as well as an army general. In 2011, after his son was accused of assaulting a couple during a traffic dispute, Li Shuangjiang visited the injured couple in the hospital and apologized to them, saying he had not raised his son properly.
 
Courts in China are often pressured to rule in favor of the powerful. But some some China analysts say Li Tianyi's case might be too public for his family to intervene.
 
Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Beijing's Renmin University, says the parents' high profile might have made it easier for them to influence the court had the trial been held in a more remote location.
 
“But this trial is in Beijing, and their names have been disclosed early on,” he said. “Hot discussion among the public about the case has become a liability for Li Tianyi.”
 
In the weeks leading up to Wednesday's hearing, Li's lawyers and his mother have tried to counter mounting criticism by building up a strong public defense in the media.
 
They have said the assaulted woman was a prostitute, and they accused the bar owner of pimping and extortion.
 
As part of their effort to show that Li is innocent, they called for an open trial despite his age.
 
Before entering the courtroom Wednesday morning, the victim's lawyer, Tian Canjun, told journalists that regardless of the defense strategy, the facts and the law will establish Li's guilt or innocence.
 
Li's trial comes just days after a court in Jinan concluded the prosecution of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, accused of corruption bribes and abuse of power.
 
Unexpectedly, the court published most of the Bo trial transcripts on a microblog account, which the public and the media in China were able to check in real time.
 
Law professor Xu Xin says that if Li Tianyi's trial has similar elements of transparency, it would increase the public's trust in the courts.
 
Of the five accused of rape, only Li Tianyi's name was published.
 
“People are now thinking that the other four defendants might have even more prominent family backgrounds,” said Xu Xin.
 
Li's trial is set to end on Thursday.
 
The victim did not take part in today's proceeding and is not likely to participate Thursday. Last week she was hospitalized, and her lawyer said it was due to the stress caused by the trial.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
August 31, 2013 9:17 AM
the bar owner might have even more prominent political backgrounds said

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs