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Compensation over fall

A DUTCH man was yesterday ordered to pay 60,000 yuan (US$8,778) in compensation to the family of a woman who fell to her death from his apartment.

The Xuhui District People's Court said the man, identified as Johanne, should take part of the responsibility because he left the scene after witnessing the accident, rather than taking immediate rescue measures.

The woman, identified as Zhang Yan, met Johanne in a bar in early 2008 when she was negotiating a divorce with her husband. She soon moved into an apartment that Johanne rented for her and her daughter.

On April 8, 2008, Zhang had a dispute with Johanne and sat on the windowsill in the apartment but lost her balance and fell from the fifth floor.

Johanne left the scene without calling an ambulance. The neighbors called the police but Zhang died at hospital.

After an investigation, police ruled out the possibility of murder, but Zhang's family insisted Johanne should take responsibility for not doing anything to save her. Her mother, husband and daughter sued Johanne last June, seeking more than 190,000 yuan in compensation.

Because Johanne left the scene, the police and the hospital were unable to learn Zhang's identity and find her family members to sign for surgery. Medical treatment was delayed, which led to Zhang's death, her husband said.

Johanne said Zhang asked him for help when they met because she suffered from domestic violence, so he rented an apartment for her and her daughter.

Johanne claimed he had refused Zhang's request that they become lovers. He said when he saw her fall he was so shocked he didn't know what to do. Because he can't speak Chinese and didn't know how to seek help, he chose to leave. He later explained what had happened to the police with the help of a Chinese friend.

The court said Zhang bore major responsibility for her own death because she sat on the windowsill but ordered Johanne to pay 20,000 yuan to each of the plaintiffs.


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