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May 15, 2014

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Fudan professor admits helping death sentence petition

A FUDAN University professor has admitted helping students collect signatures for a petition pleading clemency for a former student facing execution for poisoning his roommate.

Signed by 177 students, the petition asks the Shanghai Higher People’s Court to spare 28-year-old Lin Senhao, saying that life is precious and that China should phase out the death penalty.

Post-graduate medical student Lin was convicted of killing fellow medical student Huang Yang last April and sentenced to death. He has appealed against the sentence.

Xie Baisan, a professor in economics, told the Legal Evening News that students came to him for help after a Shanghai lawyer suggested they start a petition.

At the end of a class, the academic introduced organizers of the petition and told students to sign if they wanted.

Xie said that as a member of Fudan staff he cared about the case.

Lawyer Yan Yiming admitted suggesting students start the petition pleading for mercy for Lin.

Yan said he didn’t think this was improper as the letter was sincerely meant and written by students. He said he changed nothing the students wrote.

It was reported that Yan had been approached by Lin’s family for advice, but was not working for them.

On the Internet, many web users criticized the lawyer and professor for their roles in the controversial petition.

“They must have some reason for instigating this and encouraging students to show their sympathy,” said Shanghai resident Zhang Wei.

“The students are too young to think of what influence the petition letter will have on the second trial.”

The petition has divided opinion.

Some people say that it is proper for the students to speak out and express their views.

Others, however, accuse them of interfering with the judicial process, as Lin’s appeal has yet to be heard.

Huang Guoqing, the father of victim Huang Yang, said the students who signed the petition were immature and insisted that a life for a life was correct.

Lin was sentenced to death by the Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People’s Court in February.

He killed Huang Yang last year over a trivial grudge, putting toxic chemical n-nitrosodimethylamine into a water dispenser they shared.

Lin claimed during his trial that he had only intended to play an April Fool’s prank on Huang, who died 15 days later.

The date for the second trial hasn’t yet been announced.


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