BEIJING – A woman who was sentenced to death in China after being convicted of murdering her abusive husband received Friday a two-year reprieve, which could become a life sentence with a possibility of parole.
The reprieve is part of new guidelines on domestic violence cases that include recommendations for sentencing victims who commit crimes against their abuser.
Attorney Wan Miaoyan said the high court in Sichuan province in central China ordered the reprieve Friday for 44-year-old Li Yan. She was originally sentenced to death in 2011, although evidence showed husband Tan Yong had severely abused her. The country's top court ordered a retrial for Li last June.
Such death sentence reprieves often turn into life sentences in China. Wan said her client cannot appeal the most recent decision.
"I met her yesterday, and she kept saying sorry to the family of the victim," Wan said. "Before the retrial began today, the family of the victim was using the most abusive words to insult her, and even threw shoes at her."
William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher at the human rights group Amnesty International, applauded the decision as a positive step for domestic violence victims while still pointing out the recent detention and persecution of five women's rights activists in China.
"The reprieve for Li Yan could prove a landmark verdict for future cases where domestic violence is a mitigating factor," Nee said in a statement. "With her case, the highest court in China has sent a clear message that judges must not ignore domestic violence."