Three children face death penalty for beating 13-year-old classmate to death

Monday, April 8, 2024
 – Three children are facing the death penalty in China for beating their 13-year-old classmate to death in northern China's Hebei province last month.

The three suspects, all aged under 14 at the time of the murder, are accused of bullying their classmate, named only as Wang, over a long period before killing him

'He was beaten alive and his body was disfigured beyond recognition,' Wang's father wrote on Douyin, a Chinese social media platform. 'I hope the government will be fair, open and just, punish them severely, and that the killers will pay with their lives.'

In the recorded moments before the 13-year-old boy's death, surveillance cameras showed him sitting on a scooter, surrounded by three classmates on March 10.   An hour later, his phone reportedly went dead, kicking off a search by relatives.

The following day, police made a sickening discovery: the boy's body, buried underneath a tarp in an abandoned vegetable greenhouse.

Police in Feixiang district of Handan city identified the boy only by his last name, Wang.

In a statement on March 17, they said the boy had been killed on March 10 and that the suspects were detained the following day.

A police investigator told state broadcaster CCTV on March 18 that the crime had been premeditated, with the suspects digging out the pit twice, once the day before and again the day of the killing.

Wang's relatives and their attorney said in interviews with Chinese media and posts on social media that the boy had long been a victim of bullying, and was forced to give money to one of his classmates before he was killed.

They said police identified the suspected killers after reviewing the surveillance footage and questioning the classmates.

The provincial prosecutor said today that it had received a police request last month to criminally try the suspects, surnamed Zhang, Li, and Ma.

It said it had concluded that the three were between 12 and 14 when they 'intentionally committed murder, causing the death of the victim Wang'.

'The circumstances were serious and they should be held criminally responsible,' the provincial office said, adding that the country's top public prosecutor had reviewed the decision.

'While handling cases strictly in accordance with the law, the procuratorial organs will... further strengthen the prevention and treatment of juvenile crimes,' the provincial prosecutor continued.

Under Chinese law, murder is punishable by imprisonment or the death penalty.

Zhang Dongshuo, a defense attorney in Beijing unaffiliated with the case, said that Wang's death is the latest in a series of juvenile murder cases in China that have sparked debate on how old a child should be before being held responsible for a crime.

'Generally speaking, these kinds of cases involving minors are rare,' Zhang said. 'But recently more and more of these cases have been reported by the media, and it's been triggering discussion in Chinese society over revising the age of criminal responsibility.'

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