Published January 16, 2009
SHANGHAI, China – A court in central China has sentenced a woman to death for hiring someone to strangle her 9-year-old son so she could have another child with her new husband without violating population laws, a court official and reports said Friday.
The case stems in part from Chinese policies - in effect for more than three decades - that limit most couples to only one child.
The Higher People's Court in Shaanxi province ordered the death penalty for former bank clerk Li Yingfang, overturning a lower court decision that might have allowed her a life sentence, said a court official.
The official at the lower court in Weinan, a city in Shaanxi, said he was familiar with the case and confirmed that the death sentence had been ordered. As is common with Chinese officials not authorized to speak to media, he gave only his surname, Liu.
Calls to the Shaanxi Higher Court rang unanswered Friday.
Liu also confirmed reports by Shaanxi Television that said Li, 36, gave custody of her son from her first marriage to the boy's grandmother after her first husband died.
She remarried, but her second husband also had a daughter from his first marriage, so the couple could not legally have another child, it said.
The report said Li first paid about $10,000 to have a man named Wang Ruijie kill her second husband's daughter, but the girl resisted and escaped. Li then took her son to a meeting with Wang, who strangled the boy and left him by a rural road.
Li initially received a death sentence suspended for two years because she had suffered from depression after having two abortions due to the rules against her bearing another child, the reports said. Such sentences are often commuted to life in prison.
But the higher court found that her depression was not directly related to her crime.
Wang also was given a suspended death sentence, which the higher court upheld. Both were ordered to pay compensation to the bereaved grandmother.