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March 22, 2013

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Mentally ill suspect treated under new law

A MENTALLY ill man who attempted to rape a woman but was not charged since he was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder has been ordered into mandatory medical treatment at a special hospital monitored by police, a local court said yesterday.

The case was the first of its kind in Shanghai after the newly amended Criminal Procedure Law, which took effect on January 1, rules prosecutors can apply for mandatory medical treatment for suspects if they are exempted from jail for having mental problems.

Prosecutors said the 22-year-old suspect, surnamed Zhou, was a college student who had a mental history since high school, but seemed normal most of the time.

On December 7, he followed a female student into a toilet at his school and tried to rape her with a knife in hand.

The rape was unsuccessful. Zhou robbed the woman of her cellphone and fled. He was caught the next day by police. A mental evaluation found that Zhou had schizoid personality disorder and that he lost control when trying to rape the woman. Schizoid personality disorder is a condition characterized by excessive detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions, according to the website.

Prosecutors said Zhou needs medical treatment because he could be a danger to society. The Huangpu District People's Court approved the application as Zhou showed severe tendencies toward violence in the attempted rape case.

The treatment is for an indefinite time, until he is medically cleared.

Zhou is now being treated at Shanghai Ankang Hospital, a special hospital for mentally ill suspects found to have committed crimes. The hospital is under police control as staff are also police officers.

Before the law, mentally ill suspects were not required to receive medical treatment. Families were asked to take the patients to a mental hospital and keep them out of trouble.

But many mental hospitals shut out suspects, fearing they would harm staff and patients.

Only in extreme cases would suspects be sent to Ankang Hospital. In one case, an arsonist with mental problems lit gasoline at his home to warm himself, causing a fire that killed 36 on Shanghai's Sichuan Road in 1996. He was sent to the Ankang Hospital.

According to the amendment, prosecutors can apply for mandatory treatment for mentally ill suspects who have endangered public safety or injured others. It should be shown that the suspects had no ability to control themselves and may be a danger to the society.


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