Death sentence for ex-con who fatally injured senior

(CHINA DAILY)     Updated : 2021-02-01

Guo Wensi, a former prisoner who caused the death of one person and injured two others during the COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing in March, was sentenced to death on Friday for intentional injury.

On March 14, Guo quarreled with a 72-year-old man surnamed Duan, after Duan reminded Guo that he was not properly wearing his mask while they were both queueing at a cashier in a supermarket in Dongcheng district. Guo had pulled the mask down to his neck.

However, Guo became very unhappy and pushed Duan to the ground and then injured Duan's neck. Duan later died despite medical efforts, according to the ruling by the No 2 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing. Guo also injured two supermarket employees who attempted to stop him from fleeing.

The case soon hit Chinese media headlines, as the capital city was at the top level emergency response to COVID-19 at that moment.

"The defendant's behavior constituted the crime of intentional injury, and his offense was extremely serious, causing one death and two injuries, so he should be criminally penalized," the court said in the ruling.

What is more dramatic is that Guo, 37, was later found to be a former prisoner who had received nine reductions in his penalty after being sentenced to life imprisonment in 2005 for killing his girlfriend.

The government of Beijing quickly established a joint inspection team to investigate the former inmate's multiple commutations.

In May, a report issued by the team showed that a few officials, including several in prison and courts across the capital, had improperly enforced laws, disobeyed work disciplines and breached their duties while giving the commutations to Guo.

It said the officials used their work positions to illegally help Guo reduce his sentence after accepting "benefits" from Guo's family members and other social relations. Evidence of possible crimes has been sent to judicial authorities.

Before the intermediate court's ruling on Friday, the Beijing High People's Court had withdrawn Guo's nine commutations and restored his life sentence for the previous conviction of intentional homicide.

"We decided to sentence Guo to death in combination with the two cases," the intermediate court added in the judgment.

It has been unclear whether Guo will appeal or not.

Also on Friday, 13 others involved in Guo's improper commutations were given sentences, and some of them were ordered to pay fines ranging from 140,000($21,700) to 400,000 yuan for bribery or malpractice by the Xicheng District People's Court.