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China court slashes jail term for debt-collector killer
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 23, 2017

A man given a life sentence for killing a debt collector in China had his jail term slashed to five years on Friday after a higher court ruled his actions had been "defensive".

The case of Yu Huan, who was convicted of stabbing to death a man who had insulted his mother, sparked heated debate in the country where he was seen either as a virtuous son or vigilante murderer.

Yu's mother Su Yinxia had borrowed money for her auto parts manufacturing company from a real estate developer, but the monthly interest payments piled up and made it difficult for her to repay the debt, court documents showed.

The developer sent a gang of loan collectors to her factory in the eastern province of Shandong in April 2015 where, Su says, they began yelling at her and her son.

One of the men exposed himself, according to Yu.

A police officer called to the scene issued a mild warning to the group, telling them "don't use your fists -- just talk it out", and left.

In the violent altercation that followed -- which Su said was started by the debt collectors -- Yu stabbed four of the men with a fruit knife, killing one of them.

Yu was convicted of intentionally causing harm that resulted in death and given a life sentence in February.

Public fury reached such a fever pitch that the Supreme People's Procuratorate, China's highest investigation agency, opened a rare probe into the incident, as Yu's lawyers appealed the conviction.

The procuratorate said last month that the case against Yu was flawed and that his actions had a "defensive nature" which the court and prosecution had failed to identify, resulting in "an erroneous application of law".

In its statement Friday, the Shandong Higher People's Court agreed and said the original sentence was "too heavy".

But the court said Yu's actions had "clearly exceeded the necessary limit" and he "therefore should bear criminal responsibility according to the law".

Much of the discussion on social media had centred on whether the country's rule of law had deteriorated to the extent that children needed to step in to protect their parents when authorities failed to help.

Online reaction to Friday's court's announcement shows public opinion on the case remains divided.

"Judicial justice, thumbs up for the impartiality of the people's court," one user posted on China's Twitter-like Weibo.

Others expressed concern that the court was responding to public opinion.

"Disappointed, in the end public opinion influenced judicial justice. Maybe a life sentence is a bit too much, but five years... speechless," said one person.

Best foot forward: Hong Kong's military-style youth groups
Hong Kong (AFP) June 19, 2017
Gruelling foot drills and camouflage uniforms are part of life for some Hong Kongers as military-style youth groups become increasingly popular, despite the fact there is no army to join. Some follow the traditions of former British colonial forces, while others are newly invented military-flavoured boot camps designed to keep young people in shape. But as the semi-autonomous city prepar ... read more

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