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April 16, 2010

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Jail for 5 in paralyzing beating

FIVE assistants hired by a local urban management team were handed prison sentences yesterday of three years to five-and-a-half years for beating a fruit vendor so severely that he is now paralyzed.

Minhang District People's Court ruled that the five committed assault.

The five, including team leader Gu Jianzhong, are all Minhang natives.

They were hired as temporary workers, except Gu, who got the most severe punishment for his leading role: five-and-a-half years. The other four - Zhu Guanxing, Shen Fuliang, Sun Xiong and Qin Chunhua - were sentenced to three years to four-and-a-half years, depending on their roles in the case.

On July 11, a group of 20 urban management assistants led by Gu, 48, went to Jiqian Road to clear out illegal vendors' stands.

They saw Peng Lin, who ran a fruit store, piling watermelons on the road, contrary to urban management regulations. The assistants moved in to confiscate the watermelons and put them on a truck.

Peng tried to stop them with a watermelon knife. Gu ordered the assistants to grab the knife from Peng and force him into their van and take him to the police station.

As soon as Peng was in the van, Gu ordered the curtains drawn for fear of "affecting their image." The five assistants beat, trampled and kicked Peng during the eight-minute ride to the police station, the court determined.

Peng wasn't able to sit when he got to the police station. He was diagnosed with brain and neck injuries and is still in hospital, paralyzed and barely conscious.

In the court hearing, the defendants all tried to deny beating Peng and shifted responsibility to others.

Their lawyers argued there was insufficient evidence to prove Peng's brain injury resulted from the five's beating. They said he might have injured his head during his struggle before being taken into the van.

The court said no evidence supported that argument. The defendants' confession to police, testimonies from witnesses and Peng's family members all pointed to his being beaten in the van. Besides, Peng's brain injury was caused by "outside force," according to two judicial experts.


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