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September 23, 2009

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Drunk driver gets lighter sentence

A MAN in Guangdong Province who killed two people while driving drunk in 2006 had his death penalty dismissed recently after the Supreme People's Court ordered a controversial retrial.

In the retrial, the intermediate people's court of Guangdong's Foshan City sentenced Li Jingquan to life in prison on September 9.

The case made headlines around the country as Li was the first drunk driver to be charged with the crime of endangering public security via dangerous means, which can lead to the death penalty, Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.

Usually, drunk drivers who cause fatal accidents are charged with vehicular manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The supreme court dismissed the death penalty verdict because it wasn't so malicious that Li was not in control of his actions when he killed the victims and he showed remorse afterward.

Li hit and killed Li Jiexia and injured her son in Bihua Village on September 16, 2006, the report said.

In the morning on that day he drank a bottle of brandy with his friend Liang Xiquan and others in the village's best restaurant. He then drove his van to a shrimp pond and drank some beer. Li and his friends returned to the restaurant at noon and consumed two more bottles of brandy within three hours.

As Li drove back to the shrimp pond, he hit Li Jiexia and her son, who were on a bicycle. The woman was knocked off the bicycle and run over by Li. Her son had one of his legs broken in the accident, the report said.

Li kept driving and rammed into an iron gate. He turned the van around and then smashed into a kiosk and a motorcycle.

Villagers surrounded the vehicle, but Li locked all the doors and windows and drove away, running over Li Jiexia a second time as villagers tried to escort her to hospital.

Li also hit and killed his friend Liang.

He left his van and tried to escape by driving away in a police car at the scene, but was seized.

Both Li Jiexia and Liang died that day.

Li was sentenced to death by Foshan Intermediate People's Court on February 7, 2007. The court of appeal upheld the sentence on September 17, 2008.

Li then appealed to the supreme court. The supreme court's decision has sparked controversy. Both the Foshan court and the provincial higher court have insisted Li acted deliberately after hitting Li Jiexia and her son.

Also on September 9 this year, Sun Weiming in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, escaped the death penalty and was sentenced to life imprisonment for a fatal collision last December. Sun killed four people while driving drunk.


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