Li Tianyi - son of Chinese military singers - sentenced to ten years in jail for rape

His sentence, which his lawyers say he will appeal, reflected his minor status
  • @James_Legge

The son of two high-ranking Chinese miltary singers has been given ten years in prison for leading the gang rape of an 18-year-old woman.

The case of Li Tianyi, 17, came under heavy public scrutiny because of perception of court leniency to the well-connected.

Haidian Court, in north-west Beijing, found that in February he and four others took the woman to a Beijing hotel room, where they beat and sexually assaulted her.

Li denied the charges at his trial last month, saying he was drunk at the time, but the court said he was the ringleader.

According to state media, Li said he was drunk and passed out during the incident, that he never beat or had sex with the woman and that he could remember little of the night in question.

But the court noted he grabbed the victim's arm and dragged her into the hotel and that CCTV cameras caught him hitting her head and face in a lift.

It said Li demanded the woman to disrobe and when she refused, slapped her, kicked her and stripped her with another defendant. It said Li was the first to force sex on the victim.

Li is the son of Li Shuangjiang and Meng Ge, both known for singing rousing odes for the People's Liberation Army and starring in television galas.

He had run into legal trouble before the rape conviction. After beating a couple following a collision in 2011, Li was sent to a labor camp in the widely publicised case. He had been driving the BMW without a licence plates.

His sentence, which his lawyers say he will appeal, reflected his minor status - he was 16 at the time. Another defendant, an adult, was sentenced to 12 years after his not guilty plea.

Three others, who pleaded guilty, got three to four years.

According to the BBC, two of the teenagers had their sentences suspended because they confessed, showed remorse and apologised to the victim.

Sentences for rape in China normally range from three to 10 years, but in cases deemed severe — including gang rapes and those causing serious injury or death — the sentences for adults can range up to life in prison and even death.