Beijing, China — A Chinese court has convicted Li Tianyi, the son of two famous army singers, of rape and sentenced him to 10 years in jail, reports state media.
Li, age 17, was the ringleader of a gang rape, where he and four friends raped an 18-year-old woman at a Beijing hotel in February. The other four defendants were also found guilty by the Haidian Court in north-west Beijing, according to reports.
The court said that despite the fact that Li was the ringleader, it was showing leniency because he was a juvenile.
Li Tianyi is the son of Li Shuangjiang, an army general famous for singing patriotic songs on television. Li’s mother is Meng Ge, also a well-known singer in China’s army.
The case was watched closely by the public, as many people are shocked and outraged by the behavior of China’s elite and the way the police and courts often give them favorable treatment, says the BBC’s Damian Grammaticas in Beijing.
Li denied having sexual relations with the woman, who he claimed was a prostitute, according to a previous report.
AP news agency reported that at a news conference, court official Fan Jun said it was irrelevant whether the woman was a prostitute or not, but that the key issue was whether she consented to sex.
Li plans to appeal against the conviction. He was 16 at the time of the rape.
“I think this verdict is unjust,” said one of his lawyers, Chen Shu. “This decision is based on evidence that is delayed and verbal testimony. This type of verbal testimony is unreliable,” reported AFP.
The court suspended the sentences of two of the teenagers convicted in the rape because it said they had confessed, shown remorse, and apologised to the victim. One of the teens was just 15 years old.
The one older man who was convicted in the case was given a 12-year sentence because he also had regretted his actions and had been co-operative.
Many observers among the public expressed satisfaction with Li’s sentence.
“This case represents the current social climate,” said one observer. “Everyone is quite angry with the second-generation rich, the second-generation of officials and the second-generation celebrities.”
Another observer said: “They shouldn’t be able to do whatever they want.”
Liu Shanying, a researcher in politics from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told AP news: “There has been too much public sentiment involved in this case, namely the hatred of the rich and powerful… the ruling has been directly or indirectly influenced by that.”
As for Li Tianyi, (also known as Li Guanfeng) it was not the first time his behavior had outraged the public. He was sentenced to one year’s detention in 2011 over a road rage incident where he assaulted a couple and shouted at bystanders not to “dare to call the police”.
Li’s father apologized to the couple over that incident. Image/chinasmack.com