China / Society

Experts: Students' petition may be improper influence

By Hou Liqiang (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-15 07:36

Experts: Students' petition may be improper influence

Lin Senhao, who was convicted of intentionally murdering his roommate, Huang Yang, awaits his sentence at Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People’s Court in February. [Photo by Pei Xin / Xinhua]

Experts: Students' petition may be improper influence
Student sentenced to death for poisoning roommate 

Experts: Students' petition may be improper influence

Letter asks for leniency in university poisoning case
Law experts have said that a lawyer may have tampered with judicial independence when he suggested that Fudan University students write a petition to a court pleading for leniency for Lin Senhao.

Lin, a former graduate student at the Shanghai university's medical school, was sentenced to death on Feb 18 for killing his dorm roommate, Huang Yang, in April 2013.

More than 170 students, mainly from the university's law and medical schools, signed a petition to reduce Lin's sentence and sent it to the Shanghai High People's Court on April 20.

Lin was convicted of killing Huang by spiking their dorm room's water dispenser with a highly toxic chemical.

Attorney Yan Yiming told China Daily on Wednesday that he suggested the students write the petition when they and Lin's father sought Yan's advice and asked if he would represent Lin in a second trial.

Yan, founder of the Yan Yiming Law Firm in Shanghai, said he gave the advice hoping it might help Huang's father forgive Lin.

"The students showed me the petition when it was finished, but I didn't make any changes," Yan said.

He said he would not serve as Lin's lawyer in a second trial because he disagrees with Lin's father on some points.

A student at Fudan University Law School named Wu who helped draft the petition told China Daily he thought that Lin should be punished, but that he was not a ruthless killer.

"Lin had done some good things and was not a cruel man," Wu said. "He should be given a chance to rebuild his life."

Yan's suggestion to write the petition was not unethical, but law experts said it was concerning because it could affect judicial fairness and the independence of the court.

Lawyers have the right to draft letters to the court expressing their opinions over cases, but it's improper to suggest that others do so, said Gu Xiaorong, vice-president of the Shanghai Law Society.

The petition was widely reported by the media and could put pressure on the court and affect its verdict, Gu said.

Wang Yalin, director of Jinyatai Law Office in Anhui province, said lawyers should respect judicial independence and Yan's suggestion to write the petition was inappropriate.

"In making such a suggestion, a person means to affect the final verdict and get a lighter sentence for Lin. Lawyers should reach such an outcome through reasoning, but this way is not a way of reasoning," Wang said.

He added: "I don't know if the petition was disclosed to the media by the lawyer. If it was, he possibly used the media to interfere with judicial independence."

The Shanghai High People's Court will handle the second trial. A date has not yet been scheduled.

Huang Guoqiang, the victim's father, said he does not accept the petition, according to media reports.


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