adamcentury, Thursday, January 13th, 2011
On Tuesday afternoon, January 11, a thrifty trucker from the city of Yuzhou (禹州) in Henan province was given a life sentence for avoiding provincial highway tolls roughly ten times a day over a period of eight months. Using a fake military license plate and a set of forged identification cards, the driver, Shi Jianfeng (时建峰), altogether evaded tolls 2,361 times, defrauding the highway toll service of an estimated 3,680,000 RMB (or 550,000 USD). The fact that one individual driving a single vehicle could possibly swindle over half a million US dollars in highway fees – along with the severity of the punishment and Shi’s surprising decision not to appeal – have landed the incident (in Chinese: 368万过路费) a place on Baidu’s top ten search rankings.
The sentencing of the culprit to lifetime imprisonment has been hotly debated by Chinese netizens since the ruling went viral on Wednesday, particularly because Shi, who only finished elementary school, did not have a lawyer during the trial. An online survey conducted yesterday on www.dahe.cn, one of Henan province’s largest news websites, showed that 0 percent of the people polled agreed with the judgment, 60.4 percent disagreed with the sentence, and 39.6 percent felt that Shi’s crime was justified because of the high cost of highway tolls.
On a typical workday, Shi would travel roughly 100 kilometers to and from his destination between eight to ten times, averaging over 1,500 RMB of toll evasion daily. On the strip of road that Shi regularly drove – between Zhengyao and Xuchang – the fares cost drivers an astronomical15 RMB per kilometer (2.25 USD).
From a purely legal perspective, however, the case for life imprisonment is relatively strong. In a press conference held yesterday, the presiding judge in the case, Lou Yanwei (娄艳伟), referred to Section 266 of “The People Republic of China Criminal Law” (《中华人民共和国刑法》) which states that individuals guilty of swindling excessively large amounts of public funds should face sentences ranging from 10 years to life.
With regards to what exactly “excessively large” should be defined as, court precedent has determined it as anything surpassing 2,000,000 RMB in value. Judge Lou defended his judgment as appropriate, citing the enormous sum stolen (almost double to minimum figure for “excessively large”), the ongoing time span of the crime (8 months) and the culprit’s use of false military identification.
animal mistreatment animals Baidu Baidu Knows Baidu products car accident celebrities corruption Crime dogs e-commerce Education Entertainment Fashion food games gaokao Henan Infidelity internet celebrities Internet phenomena Japan Kids These Days Law Love magic Music Netizen empowerment official misconduct PDA plastic surgery politics religion scandal Sex sexual harrassment social elites Society spoiled privileged teens Sports Technology Top 10 Countdown 2011 Top Ten Search Terms Trending Topics Weird