China: Yang Jia given death penalty in problematic trial

After going to court last week, cop killer Yang Jia‘s (杨佳) first trial concluded today with the handing down of the death sentence. Yang has ten days to appeal for a second trial, which if he does will be followed by a review at the People's Supreme Court of his having been given the death penalty, to then be commuted or carried out.

Lawyer-blogger Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原) has written eleven [zh] (not including those that have already been harmonized) posts about this case over the past week, looking at all aspects of the case. His post today [zh], however, deals not so much with the social factors that would see a brutal cop-killer receive so much support and sympathy both online and off, but the logistics of Yang's case as it moves forward from here, as well as problems he perceives in the non-transparent way it has been handled so far:





Now with a first trial verdict, Yang Jia doesn't have many days left

Since the police attack incident on July 1, until the verdict today, two whole months have gone by. Because of the holding of the Olympic Games, Yang Jia was able to live a few days longer.

As for how Yang Jia will be judged in the cop-killing case, you don't need a lawyer to tell you, even average citizens can predict what the outcome will be.

As we pay attention to the Yang Jia cop-killing case, it's not because we support his ‘fighting violence with violence’, but rather that we're interested in his motive for committing this crime, in judicial procedure in handling cases, as well as the deeper reasons which led to this crime taking place.





The details of the Yang Jia cop-killing case, looking just at the surface of it, are not particularly complex, nor are they unique; cases similar to this have taken place in the past, only not so many police were killed or hurt.

The Yang Jia cop-killing case is one that has had huge impact across the country, and the behind-the-curtains way that the judiciary have handled this case has given rise to widespread suspicion throughout society.

Yang Jia killed people, and this should have been condemned by society. What comes unexpectedly, though, is that he actually earned many people's sympathy. Can't people tell right from wrong? What possible reason could there be, for public and social values to get as screwed up as this?

I think, deeply-rooted social reasons aside, that it's possible that the reason is due to certain practices of the judiciary that, in processing cases, just aren't transparent.




In this cop-killing case, the most unbelievable part is that Yang Jia's mother actually and inexplicably “disappeared.” After her “disappearance,” when the Beijing lawyer retained by Yang Jia's father went to Shanghai demanding to meet with Yang Jia, the Procuratorate brought out Yang Jia's statement, which said that he would only meet with a lawyer appointed by his mother. Once in possession of this statement, Xie Youming (谢有明), a Shanghai lawyer, then went to Beijng and was able to find Yang Jia's mother, and gain authorization to handle the case. Sounds a little strange, right?

If there were a problem in how lawyer Xie Youming came to be entrusted, this would affect both the proceedings of the trial, as well as the legality of the verdict. Because, according to the “Criminal Action Law” as well as rules for judicial interpretation, with regards to cases which bear a possible death sentence, the accused are guaranteed counsel as means to provide a defense, so of course, said counsel must be either entrusted legally or else be appointed by the court. Lawyer Xie is not court-appointed counsel, he is the counsel entrusted upon by Yang Jia's mother. Suppose this entrustment were invalid, wouldn't the initial sentence be in violation of procedure?

That's not all the unbelievable there is in this case, Yang Jia's mental illness evaluation was performed by a body which lacks judicial testimony qualifications. I don't know if the Procuratorate or the court have re-sought expert testimony on Yang Jia or not. If they haven't redone this, and instead have relied on the Ministry of Justice's Science and Technology Research Institute's own expert testimony as evidence in determining Yang Jia's criminal responsibility, then serious problems exist with the Shanghai #2 Intermediate People's Court's first trial verdict.




Following the first trial, Yang Jia now has a maximum of ten days to appeal. If he appeals, the second trial gets heard by the Shanghai People's Higher Court. Following that, there still remains the death penalty review procedure at the People's Supreme Court. If Yang Jia does not appeal, the case goes straight to the mandatory death penalty review procedure.

According to article #196 of “Criminal Action Law”, second-trial appeal cases in the People's Court should be concluded within one month. At the latest they are not allowed to run longer than a month and a half. Under circumstances found in article #126 of this Law, the deadline can be extended by one month.

Yang Jia's cop-killing case does not fall under the circumstances stipulated in article #126 of “Criminal Action Law”. In other words, the longest this case will last is a month and a half.






The crime took place on July 1, the investigation concluded on July 10, at which point the Shanghai Police handed the case over to the Shanghai People's Procuratorate to prepare the charges. If it hadn't been for the coming of the Olympics, the trial would have begun proceedings on July 28. From this we can see that the public prosecutors expedited the investigation, the trial hearing, and the sentencing, in this case.

Following a second trial, there is no clearly-stipulated time limit for death penalty review; in other words, it could go fast, or it could go slow.

Former Shangdong Province Jinan City National People's Congress Standing Committee member Duan Yihe‘s (段义和) sentence for blowing up his mistress, when his appeal was rejected in second trial on August 23, 2007, the case went into death penalty review, with the review process concluding in just ten days, and the execution carried out on September 4. Duan Yihe's case, from the time the crime took place on July 9 to the carrying out of the death sentence, only 58 days had passed. As lawyer in the Liao Siqi (廖思齐) death penalty review case, the case reached the Supreme Court for review at the beginning of June, and today, three months later, has still yet to see the review conclude.

If it weren't for the Olympic Games, Yang Jia's case would have proceeded as quickly as Duan Yihe's.

If it had gone that quickly, it's possible Yang Jia's case would have run its complete course by the end of September, and early October at the latest.


  • Very interesting to learn more about the court process. You’d wish a fair trial would proceed something as dreadfully inhumane as a death penalty.

  • Wei

    The events that led to the murders are more interesting and more telling than the trial and the expected death sentence.

  • so_damn_lame

    Hey Wei,

    Yeah, I totally agree with you on your assessment (#2), but you got to hand it to Kennedy though. How else would you start a road rage forum if you don’t “politely” point out all them “differences”.

    Dude, if Kennedy didn’t exercise his own “selectivity” here, Solana probably would be the only leaving comments here.

    But then again, I sometimes get the feels that she only leaves comments b/c she felt compelled to show other people that she’s interested in more than whatever minute spectrum she’s into.

  • wei

    杨佳is not wright ,but the cop have some problem

  • Wei

    Great, now we have two different Weis :P

  • […] fallout from the closed trial given to Yang Jia after he murdered six Shanghai policemen in July continues to bear down on the […]

  • stranger

    The details of the Yang Jia cop-killing case, looking just at the surface of it, are not particularly complex, nor are they unique; But the suspecious point of this case is that the motive of yangjia killing cop,obviously the reason given by shanghai police is not satisfied for the public, people won’t believe that he would become cop-killing machine(police call it “revenge”) just because of the bike incident unless his mental got problem.However,there is one thing for sure is that the death penalty cann’t be changed even they start the second trial,he must take the reponsibilities for what he done.

  • […] is Yang Jia, the man who was recently convicted of murdering several Shanghai police officers earlier this […]

  • […] Jia killed 6 police in Shanghai with a knife, and was sentenced to death in the 1st trial in August, but won quite a lot applause from the blogsphere and folks, who deemed […]

  • […] in his first trial that a death sentence was the verdict, Yangjia pointed at the judges, saying, […]

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