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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs