Yao Jiaxin, the 21-year-old Xi’an Conservatory student who stabbed a waitress to death last year after hitting her with his car, was sentenced to death by a Xi’an court on April 22, 2011. The court also stripped him of political rights for life and ordered him to pay 45,498.50 yuan ($8,635.13) in compensation to the victim’s family.
Given China’s predilection for capital punishment, it would seem that justice has been served. However, some people are calling bullshit for at least two reasons:
1. Yao has the opportunity to appeal his sentence.
In fact, every death sentence decided by an Intermediate people’s court (such as the court that sentenced Yao) must go through a double appeals process involving the High people’s court (optional and at the discretion of the condemned) and the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China (mandatory). According to various sources, the Supreme People’s Court has overturned about 10 percent of all death sentences since 2007, which means that there is still a small chance for Yao to escape the death penalty.
2. The compensation Yao owes to the victim’s family is “insultingly” small.
The victim’s family initially demanded 540,000 yuan ($81,724) and was awarded 45,498.50 yuan ($8,635.13) by the court. At least some of the money was supposed to support the victim’s husband and two-year-old son. I couldn’t find an average monetary compensation for murder in China, but one law professor from the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing argues that the amount awarded is far less than what the victim could have earned to support her son to adulthood.
On top of it, the victim’s family, satisfied with what they consider a certain death sentence, decided to abandon all compensation claims against Yao’s family because they wanted to show “mercy and kindness” towards Yao’s parents.
Yao Jiaxin on trial
Zhang Xian (left), legal representative for the plaintiff, and Wang Hui (right), husband of the victim outside the courthouse on April 22, 2011
This is why peasants will always be peasants. They can’t even be coerced into helping themselves. $8600 isn’t a king’s fortune, but they could have taken it and bought some stock or designer clothes or something. That way, in the event that the death sentence is overturned, the husband can at least tell people, “Well yes, they murdered my wife, but hey, I got a couple pairs of kick-ass Ferragamos out of it. And they’re not even imitation!”
Some articles on Yao Jiaxin’s case: