China jails Chinese-Canadian star Kris Wu for rape
Beijing, Nov 26: A Beijing court on Friday sentenced Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu to 13 years in prison after he was found guilty of charges including rape.
The court said he would be deported after serving the 13-year sentence.
The 32-year-old is also known as Wu Yifan. He is a former member of the South Korean group EXO.
His trial was closed to the public to protect the victims' privacy, but a Canadian diplomat attended Friday's hearing, the court said. It is the latest in a string of cases involving Chinese and Canadian citizens amid tensions between the two countries.
Wu, who was once one of China's most prominent pop stars, has been detained since August 2021 as police conducted an investigation into allegations of sex-related crimes.
Brands including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, L'Oreal Men and Porsche suspended their partnerships with him over the case.
Why was Kris Wu sentenced to jail?
According to the court, he sexually assaulted three women in the period from November to December 2020. The three women were drunk and unable to consent, the court said.
He was given 11 years and 6 months in jail for the rape charges.
The additional year and 10 months of his 13-year sentence were for the "crime of assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity'' at a 2018 event where he and others allegedly assaulted two women.
"According to the facts, the nature, circumstances and harmful consequences of the crime, the court made the above judgment," the court said in an online statement.
Last year, a 19-year-old student accused Wu of date-raping her when she was 17. Since then, more women have spoken up online about their encounters with Wu.
Hashtags related to the case like "girls help girls," where women expressed solidarity toward the victims, were censored from Chinese social media platforms.
Tax evasion charges
Chinese state news agencies reported that Wu was also fined 600 million yuan ($84 million; €80 million) for tax evasion.
Wu "used a fake business to convert the nature of his income and falsely declare it, and evaded 95 million yuan of tax by concealing personal income through multiple domestic and overseas affiliated companies," Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
He also "underpaid 84 million yuan of taxes," the news agency added.
Crackdown on celebrity influence in China
Beijing has used tax evasion fines against famous artists in the past as China cracks down on celebrity culture.
Zheng Shuang, a prominent actress, was hit with a $46 million tax evasion fine last summer.
Chinese officials have said that they were targeting "abnormal aesthetics." Broadcasters were ordered to stop giving airtime to "sissy" men and "vulgar influencers."
Critics say the moves are a bid by the Communist Party to strengthen its ideological control and curb external influences.
fb/ar (AP, AFP, Reuters)