Top court highlights cases of public safety

2024-04-03 09:15:09China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chinese courts have been required to focus more on solving criminal cases that have endangered public safety, with harsher punishment for those held mainly responsible for related accidents.

The requirement was reaffirmed by the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, on Tuesday when it disclosed five influential cases related to public safety.

One case involved a restaurant investor and operator surnamed Qi in Xiangfen county, Shanxi province, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in April 2022 for endangering public safety.

On Aug 29, 2020, when a group of customers were chatting and playing cards at Juxian Restaurant, waiting to attend a birthday banquet at noon for an 80-year-old man, the two-story building collapsed, killing 29 and injuring 28.

According to the county court, the restaurant was found to have been expanded and renovated eight times in the previous two decades, and to have lacked construction approval, professional design, supervision or completion acceptance each time.

"Such illegal expansions and renovations led to serious defects in the quality of the building, and Qi began the business with no comprehensive assessment of safety hazards, which were the causes of the collapse," the court said.

Therefore, Qi, as the principal person responsible for the accident, should be harshly punished in line with the Criminal Law, it added.

Under the law, people face a prison term ranging from three to seven years if their violation of work safety rules leads to an extremely serious accident.

"Public safety is closely related to people's work and lives, as well as to social order and the long-term stability of a country," the top court said, urging courts nationwide to provide heavier punishment to those found by investigations to be primarily responsible for such accidents.

Another of the cases disclosed by the top court, which was concluded by the Shapingba District People's Court in Chongqing, clarified that throwing objects from high buildings constituted the crime of endangering public safety through dangerous means.

On May 18, 2017, a man surnamed Li deliberately threw an empty beer bottle from the balcony of a 21st floor apartment to the ground, where a school playground was located, because he was in a bad mood. The bottle broke on impact and pieces of glass hit the back of a student who was exercising at the school.

A few minutes later, Li threw a glass into the playground that hit the head of another student, aged 13, causing serious injuries.

The district court identified Li's behavior as the crime of endangering public safety through dangerous means "because he knew some people were exercising downstairs, but still threw objects from upstairs to vent his emotions, which had harmed others' lives and safety, let alone seriously injuring one victim".

In February 2018, the court sentenced Li to 10 years in prison for the crime.

The top court approved the ruling, demanding judges give stronger legal support to the safety of people's lives and property, and ensure public safety through high-quality case handling.

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