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November 10, 2009

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Lenient sentences over rape reviewed

A COURT in Zhejiang Province's Huzhou City has decided to hold a new trial in a police rape case that caused nationwide concern after a lenient lower-court sentence.

Huzhou Intermediate People's Court overturned the ruling by Nanxun District People's Court on October 29 that saw two police assistants jailed for three years for raping a drunken woman, Oriental Morning Post said.

"A new, closed-door trial is anticipated to protect the victim's privacy," the intermediate court said on Friday.

The officers, surnamed Qiu and Cai, were convicted of the June 10 rape and received the light sentences as the court said they had been forgiven by the victim and that the rape was unpremeditated, or "a temporary offense."

"Temporary" quickly became a buzzword with domestic online communities.

Netizens questioned whether offenses could be considered "temporary, permanent or long term."

Qi Qi, chief justice of Zhejiang Provincial Higher People's Court, has instructed the intermediate court to handle the case in accordance with "the law and the truth."

He urged the higher court to cooperate with the provincial procuratorate and public security department during the case.

The Communist Party of China's Huzhou committee has set up a task force to investigate any disciplinary violations in the district court's handling of the case.

Qiu and Cai had dinner and drank heavily with two high school graduates on June 10 after they completed college entrance exams.

The victim passed out after dinner. She was taken to a hotel and raped by the men.

According to China's criminal law, gang rape is a felony that carries at least 10 years of imprisonment or may even incur the death penalty.


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