WANGDU, China – A senior police official's son accused of killing a young woman while driving drunk stood trial Wednesday in northern China in a case that has fueled public outrage after reports that he invoked his father's name to evade responsibility.
Li Qiming is accused of hitting two women on Oct. 16 while driving under the influence of alcohol on a university campus, killing 20-year-old student Chen Xiaofeng and injuring the other.
Reports later emerged in the media that when a crowd and security tried to stop him from fleeing the scene, Li shouted: "Go ahead, sue me. My father is Li Gang!" — in an apparent attempt to use the influence of his father, the deputy police chief of Baoding city.
The comment exploded on the Internet, becoming the country's newest catch phrase. An online contest challenged people to work "My father is Li Gang" into classical poetry. One artist used the phrase as the centerpiece of a towering art installation.
The hit-and-run focused popular anger at China's elite and abuses of power, and Li Gang quickly appeared on national television, weeping, apologizing and bowing in front of the camera for half a minute. He appeared to be apologizing for the loss of life.
Wednesday's trial at the Wangdu County People's Court in Hebei province was held amid tight security, with police lines set up outside the courthouse preventing journalists and a crowd of about 100 people from getting near the entrance. About 30 police officers were stationed around the courthouse and at nearby intersections.
The trial ended after 2-½ hours with no immediate verdict, said Hu Yihua, the lawyer representing the family of Chen, the woman who was killed. While trials in China are often swift, with verdicts handed down on the same day, some cases can take days or even weeks before a court announces its decision. Calls to the victim's family members on their mobile phones rang unanswered.
In November, Chen's father, Chen Guangqian, told The Associated Press that Li Gang gave him 460,000 yuan, or more than $69,250, as compensation. Such payments are often used in China as a way to avoid lawsuits or at least quiet the public airing of grievances.