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Chen Jia verdict in, life in prison

The top search on Baidu last Wednesday, May 18th, was 陈家 (Chen Jia), who was expecting a verdict from the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court; he rammed a stopped car at a traffic light last year while driving drunk at 110km/hour, killing a father, a six year-old girl, and severely injuring the mother. His fleeing the scene was a big mistake. After 10 hours he was caught. This drew a lot of anger on the Internet. Below is a local report in Chinese and contains the traffic footage:

Chen Jia is now found guilty of endangering public security and sentenced to life in prison. Whether his case is one of simple traffic accident (15 year maximum sentence) or endangering public security (maximum sentence of death) gripped the nation. CCTV reported that between 2006 and 2010, there were 3,500 deaths and 9,000 injuries from drunk driving accidents alone in China. A number of high profile drunk driving accidents made national news in the last few months.

Additional details can be found here from CCTV. The report said:

However the judge said the consequences of the accident was severe, plus he fled the scene after the incident. Those facts provided enough evidence for the charge of endangering public security.

In my recent trip to China, I had a conversation with a Chinese auto-worker about fighting corruption. One aspect is society becoming more aware of using the court system to resolve disputes. This case and other high profile cases covered in the media are slowly helping to build a legal culture in China.

If the resolution to this Chen Jia case was based on two bribed officials, then the side who had access to the higher ranking one ‘wins.’ Stamping this out will be a big step in fighting corruption and public awareness is key.

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