Qiu Riren, an 80-year-old man tried for a murder he committed in 1967, has been sentenced to three years and six months in prison for the crime. Qiu’s case became the focus of attention in China as it is one of the only known prosecutions for a crime committed during the Cultural Revolution. From McClatchy Newspapers:
The reasoning by a municipal court in the city of Rui’an, laid out in a five-page ruling dated March 7 but that the victim’s family said they received only on Friday, hinted at the lingering sensitivity of the Cultural Revolution, a period fueled by the ruthless politics of Mao Zedong, the father of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
The court said the defendant, Qiu Riren, had acknowledged murdering a man named Hong Yunke, a village doctor who was captured by a militia in December 1967, a time when the nation was being terrorized by competing Red Guard factions bent on punishing those not deemed sufficiently revolutionary.
Accused of being a spy, Hong was detained in a barn and then taken to an ad hoc execution ground where Qiu and another man were assigned to strangle him with a rope, the court said. Afterward, Qiu hacked at Hong’s legs with a farming tool to make it easier to push his body down into a hole, according to the document.
The historical aspect of the murder, along with other factors, including Qiu’s confession and the fact that the crime happened before the adoption of the nation’s criminal procedure law in 1979, argued for a lenient sentence, the court said.
As the generation that was most active during the Cultural Revolution grows older, some participants are publicly reflecting on their role in the violence and chaos of the era. The Guardian’s Tania Branigan recently profiled a man trying to make amends for his denunciation of his mother which led to her execution.