Courts decide, don't worry about media trial

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By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-12 07:36

Jin Ding/China Daily

On Sunday, the Supreme People's Court announced it will review the materials of a murder and rape case that took place in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in which a man was found guilty of raping, torturing and killing a 10-year-old girl. He was sentenced to death, but he appealed and got a two-year reprieve.

The girl had gone missing from Lingshan county, in Qinzhou, Guangxi, on Oct 4, 2018, when she was heading home after selling some fruits. Two days later, Yang Guangyui, then 29, had turned up before the police and confessed to raping and killing her.

Last July, the Qinzhou Intermediate People's Court sentenced Yang to death. The original ruling said that to prevent the girl from shouting and crying, Yang seized her by the throat, rendering her unconscious, put her into a bag and carried her to a mountain. There, when she regained consciousness, he stabbed her neck and eyes with a knife and then raped her and took the 32 yuan ($4.50) she had earned by selling the fruits. Later, he dumped her body on the mountain.

On March 25, after Yang appealed, the Guangxi High People's Court changed his death sentence to death with a two-year reprieve, saying Yang's act of going to the police to confess to the crime could be seen as a surrender.

The reduced sentence immediately went viral on social networking sites, inviting huge criticism. Some are now expressing fear of a "trial by the media" and worrying that public opinion might influence the judicial outcome.

It's true that the top court's decision, too, came following increased public interest in the case after the girl's family complained to a local micro-blogger on Friday where they said they feel it is unjust that their tormentor had got a reprieve.

But such worries are unfounded. In the age of new media, there is nothing that can be hidden, and court trials are under public scrutiny. It is up to the courts to judge a case and not public opinion.

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