Online outcry forces China to grant retrial for man sentenced to life for evading road tolls

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Beijing, Jan 15(ANI): China has granted a retrial for a man sentenced to life in prison for evading road tolls, after the severity of the sentence caused a huge online outcry.

According to the China Daily, Shi Jianfeng was sentenced on December 21 after being found guilty of using a fabricated military driving license and fake military plates on his trucks to evade tolls totaling 3.68 million yuan.

It was claimed in the Pingdingshan Intermediate People's Court that Jianfeng's two trucks, transporting sand and gravel, avoided paying tolls 2,362 times in the nine months between May 2008 and January 2009.

The average toll each time would have been 1,558 yuan.

Aside from the life sentence the court also fined Jianfeng two million yuan, and deprived him of his political rights for life.

The harsh sentence had sparked a storm of criticism in blogs and online forums.

Several netizens claimed that Jianfeng's income was far smaller than the road costs he would typically have incurred.

"Compared to some cases in which officials have pocketed hundreds of millions of yuan, this is not a serious case," the newspaper quoted one netizen, as saying.

The court has now said that as the case had "triggered the media's attention and heated debate" authorities have subsequently questioned Jianfeng again.

Liu Penghua, director of the political department of the court, said that Jianfeng claims to have been manipulated by a relative, and as this "new evidence" might have changed the outcome of the case, the court had decided to hold a retrial. (ANI)

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