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July 21, 2009

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Street-race driver jailed for 3 years over death of pedestrian

A DRIVER who hit and killed a pedestrian while drag racing was jailed for three years for vehicular manslaughter yesterday.

The case in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, has attracted nationwide attention.

Hangzhou's Xihu District People's Court handed the sentence to Hu Bin, a 20-year-old Hangzhou native.

Hu's family had paid 1.13 million yuan (US$165,420) in compensation to the family of victim Tan Zhuo before the court trial.

Three years' jail is the highest penalty for vehicular manslaughter.

The court said Hu was given the severe sentence because he was racing with an illegally modified car in a downtown area and seriously jeopardized public security, though he did not flee the scene.

Attitude queried

Hu, in a Mitsubishi sports car, hit Tan on the night of May 7 this year.

Tan flew 5 meters into the air before he hit the ground and died.

Police said Hu was in a street race with friends about 8pm and was going between 84.1 and 101.2 kilometers per hour on Wen'er Road W. when he ran into Tan.

The street's speed limit is 50km/h.

Hu has been widely criticized by Netizens for his attitude after the accident.

He reportedly got out of his car and laughed and chatted with his friends while waiting for police as Tan was still lying in a pool of blood.

Tan, who was about to marry his girlfriend, was a graduate from Zhejiang University, one of the best in China.

Hundreds of Hangzhou residents went to his funeral and many called for severe penalties for drag racing.

The parents of Hu and Tan were vocal after the verdict was handed down, China News Service reported yesterday.

Hu's mother was weeping when she stepped out from the court after the decision. "It's unfair," she said.

Hu's father said he did not feel well and that the family had nothing to do with the verdict.

Tan's father wants to petition Zhejiang Higher People's Court to review the case as he believes the sentence imposed on Hu is too lenient.

"I am disappointed about the result because prosecutors had made it clear that Hu committed an offence of a vicious nature, which deserved a heavier sentence than three years," he was quoted by the report.

He thought Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court, the court of appeal, would uphold the sentence, so he wanted a review by the provincial higher court.

He is seeking assistance from his legal counsel.

Tan's father said earlier that Hu should be charged with endangering public security, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of death.

Liu Chunquan, a lawyer from Guangsheng & Partners' Shanghai branch, agreed that the sentence was lenient and that it would be "reasonable" to charge Hu with endangering public security.

Liu also said the huge amount of compensation could have been a contributing factor in the outcome.


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