Travelling back to the South of Italy on my Easter holiday, I found this comment by a reader from Shanghai
Feng Zhiyang (43, schoolteacher)
Li Shouming (47, director of the county migration office)
Chen Mengran (27, director of the office of land resources)
Huang Yongliang (28, social security office)
Chen Cun (38, office of justice)
Mu Mingzhong (delegate to the local people’s congress and manager of a real estate company)
Feng Yong (taxi driver)
They stood trial in Xishui county (Guizhou province) yesterday.
If found guilty of visiting prostitutes under 14 years of age, the maximum penalty the seven suspects could receive would be of “five years or more fixed term imprisonment and a fine”. Their maximum term of imprisonment would not exceed 15 years.
If charged with rape (art. 236), the seven suspects could receive punishments ranging from 10 years imprisonment to the death penalty.
As mentioned by this article, the defendants were charged with visiting prostitutes, rather than with rape. Public security organs and the prosecutors reasoned that the officials offered money in exchange for the sexual services they received. Also, they knew that the prostitutes they visited were younger than fourteen. So, based on this judicial interpretation, they held the officials were suspected of visiting prostitutes.
The defendants had to be charged with rape instead. Because:
- Article 236 (2) defines as rape any sexual intercourse involving a person under the age of fourteen.
- A 2003 judicial interpretation (最高人民法院关于行为人不明知是不满十四周岁的幼女，双方自愿发生性关系是否构成强奸罪问题的批复) specifies that any sexual intercourse involving a person under the age of 14 is considered rape even it was consensual. An important condition is that the other party must know that they had intercourse with a person under 14.
- Intercourse was non-consensual: Yuan Li and her accomplices had to beat and threaten the girls to persuade them to receive their “customers”.
- In similar cases, suspects are normally charged with rape (See 教育部、公安部、司法部关于辽宁等地相继发生教师强奸猥亵学生事件的情况通报 mentioning just a few precedents)
- Statements released by the Guizhou political-legal committee
- Statements by the Zunyi political-legal committee
- Legal daily: how rape took place in the office of justice’s guesthouse
- Xinjingbao discussing why the defendants were indicted on the wrong charges