A Chinese court's sentences for five organizers of a cult self-burning incident were "correct and in accordance with law," said a renowned Chinese expert on criminal laws Friday.
Gao Mingxuan, a professor of law school at the People's University of China, said that the judgments demonstrated the principle of "punishing chief criminals while treating accomplices separately in line with laws."
The No.1 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing Municipality earlier Friday sentenced Liu Yunfang and three other organizers to life imprisonment and 7-15 years in jail respectively for the self-burning incident involving Falun Gong practitioners at Tian'anmen Square early this year.
In a separate judgment of the court, a woman accomplice, who played a much lesser role, was exempted from criminal punishment.
Gao pointed out that Liu Yunfang and his party were still carrying on illegal activities, including organizing, instigating and helping Falun Gong practitioners to commit suicide or self- burning, after the Chinese government had banned the Falun Gong cult.
Gao said that the penalty set by courts to punish a small number of key cult activity organizers and its die-hard members helps guarantee the security of citizens' lives and property and maintains social order.
The court made the judgments in accordance with China's criminal laws and relevant judicial explanations by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on handling criminal cases concerning cults, Gao said, which provided sufficient legal basis for the judgment.
Gao noted that China has a complete criminal judicial system for dealing with cults, adding that the supreme court and the supreme procuratorate have promulgated detailed regulations concerning spreading cults, defying law implementation, slandering, instigating cults, and illegal gathering for cult activities, showing that China makes full use of the law to crack down on cults.
Gao Jinghong, deputy chief judge of the First Criminal Court of the Supreme People's Court, said that the accused involved in the self-burning incident were organizers, plotters, helpers and instigators of others' suicides, who shall be defined as murderers and shall be punished in accordance with criminal laws.
Liu Baorong, a female accomplice who played a much lesser role in the suicide and performed meritorious deeds afterwards, was exempted from criminal penalty, showing the Chinese courts' spirit of uniting the hoodwinked majority of Falun Gong practitioners while punishing the hard-core minority, Judge Gao said.
(People's Daily, August 18, 2001)