The conviction of an unemployed man who killed six police officers in Shanghai on July 1 is being questioned by Chinese bloggers.
On Monday, exactly two months after the killings, a Shanghai court sentenced Yang Jia to the death penalty, finding that the murder was premeditated.
However, Chinese bloggers are questioning Yang’s motive for the murders and the fairness of the trial.
Police say Yang, a Beijing resident, entered the Zhabei Police Station in Shanghai and started a frenzied knife attack, killing six officers and injuring another four. He was apprehended on the spot by the police.
The court said that in October 2007, officers from the Zhabei Police Station interrogated Yang on suspicion of stealing a bicycle and that Yang committed the murders in revenge against the police.
After Yang was arrested, the Shanghai Police Depart had posted an announcement on its website stating that Yang had “committed a criminal act of murder to get revenge against his being previously investigated by the police for stealing a bicycle.” However, the post was soon removed.
The case has drawn national attention, sparking discussions among Chinese bloggers about Yang’s motive and how a bicycle theft case resulted in six cops getting murdered.
In the weeks since the attack, Yang has gained a lot of sympathy nationwide, surprising the authorities. Why does the public not favor the police when the police were the murder victims?
One Chinese blogger commented that “Yang Jia’s verdict serves him right. However, the police should examine themselves deeply.”
Another said, “In our country, the police are unusually mean. This is the reason why the public does not sympathize with the police.”
Jia Xiaoyin, who claimed to be Yang’s best friend, posted an article on the web entitled, “The inside Story of the Cop-Killing Case in Shanghai.” He wrote that Yang was brutally beaten when he was detained by the Shanghai police, and as a result lost his sexual function.
Yang had appealed many times to the authorities, asking them to punish those who were responsible for his condition and to compensate him for his loss.
A few days after his article was posted, the No. 2 Branch of the People’s Procuratorate of Shanghai Municipality officially arrested Jia Xiaoyin on a slander charge.
There is also a controversy regarding Yang’s defense lawyers. The Shanghai Lawyer Association announced on July 19 that Yang had officially chosen Xie Youming and Xie Jin as his defense lawyers.
However, Yang’s father had appointed lawyers from the Xiong Zhi Law Firm in Beijing, including Xiong Liesuo, to act as Yang’s defense lawyers.
Xiong and the other lawyers went to Shanghai on July 15 but were unable to meet with Yang. Neither were they able to review any documentation regarding Yang’s case.
The Procuratorate showed Xiong and the other lawyers a statement from Yang taken by the police claiming that Yang would only accept lawyers assigned by his mother and that he would not work with any other lawyers.
Yang’s mother, Wang Jing, was considered as a key witness and was taken to the Datun Police Station to “assist the police investigation” on the afternoon of the murder.
However, friends and relatives have since lost contact with her. Yang Jing’s relatives have asked Li Jinsong, a lawyer from Yitong Lawyer Firm in Beijing, to report Wang’s disappearance — and the possibility that she was kidnapped — to the police and the court, and have requested an investigation.
So far they have not heard anything from the authorities.
Some in the legal community are saying that the appointment of Xie Yougming as Yang’s lawyer amounts to a conflict of interest as he is a legal consultant for the Zhabei City Council.
This means that the officers who were killed as well as the police department that investigated the case are all in the same local government, making Xie’s status controversial. People in the legal community think Xie should avoid getting involved in this case.