A man who took a bomb inside Beijing’s airport in hopes of winning redress over an alleged beating by authorities that partially paralyzed him was yesterday sentenced to six years in prison for the explosion.
Former motorcycle taxi driver Ji Zhongxing (冀中星) went on trial last month for endangering public safety with a homemade bomb. Ji was the only person injured in the July 20 explosion, losing a hand.
The attack drew widespread condemnation, but also sympathy from many Chinese, who said it shows the government ignores the powerless and marginalized.
Ji had faced up to 10 years in prison.
The Beijing Chaoyang District Court said on its microblog that the explosion inside the crowded airport and Ji’s transporting of the device by public bus from Shandong Province constituted a major threat to public safety. However, it said it decided on a lighter sentence because Ji had warned onlookers that he had a bomb and had cooperated with prosecutors.
Xinhua news agency released photographs of Ji attending the court yesterday, and the court said Ji’s lawyers and relatives were among the nearly 40 people in attendance.
Ji’s lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan (劉曉原) said his client had hoped to attract police so he could be detained and discuss his beating in 2005 by city security guards in Dongguan.
Ji had denied exploding the bomb deliberately, claiming it went off accidentally as he was shifting it from one hand to the other.
Ji, 33, from Heze, had been petitioning Chinese authorities for years after the 2005 attack, which left him paralyzed from the waist down and more than US$16,000 in debt, his elder brother said.
Internet users were critical of the verdict and sentence, condemning China’s justice system.
“How many people on the bottom rung of society would choose to ‘defend their rights in a legal manner?’ And have China’s bureaucrats and so-called laws defended their rights?” wrote one user under the court posting.
“Those who talk nonsense are either idealists or assisting the evildoers, or they are thugs backed by the powerful,” the user wrote.
Additional reporting by AFP