Court Officials Probed for Toll Evading Case
    2011-01-16 19:23:21     Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhang

Related: Brother Turns Self in for Evading Expressway Tolls

Four court officials in central China's Henan Province were under investigation after the life sentence they handed down on a farmer for evading a staggering amount of expressway tolls triggered widespread public controversy.

At a press conference Sunday, the provincial higher court announced four court officials, including the president and a deputy president, were being probed for the dubious verdict on Shi Jianfeng.

Shi was convicted of fraud Tuesday for evading 3.68 million yuan (558,000 U.S. dollars) of expressway tolls.

The four officials included the court president Guo Baozhen, deputy president Ren Jianjun, supervisor Hou Xiaohong and Lou Yanwei, the chief judge who heard Shi's case and was directly responsible for the ruling.

While Guo just received a warning from the higher court and stayed on in his job, the other three were also suspended from their posts for further investigation and training, said Tian Liwen, vice president of Henan Provincial Higher Court.

Tian said the intermediate court had failed to investigate Shi's case properly and apparently lacked evidence when they handed down the sentence.

Shi had allegedly fabricated military driver licenses and used fake military license plates on his two trucks to evade expressway tolls.

Shi said during an inquiry that he was being manipulated by a relative -- and in a more dramatic episode, his younger brother Shi Junfeng turned himself in to police Saturday, saying his brother had actually taken the blame for him.

Shi Junfeng said he offered bribes after his brother's detention and was promised that his brother would be released soon. He, too, is under investigation.

The case drew attention and controversy on the Internet, with some saying the life-imprisonment sentence was too harsh and that expressway tolls were unreasonably high.

The intermediate court in Pingdingshan vowed to retry the case on Friday.


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