China To Criminally Try Three Minors For Child Murder

In 2021, China lowered its age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12 for "special cases" such as inflicting death by "extremely cruel means".

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China will put three minors on trial for allegedly murdering another child, a provincial prosecutor said Monday, in a case that has shocked the nation and sparked public debate over the treatment of juvenile offenders.

The three suspects, all aged under 14 at the time of the murder, are accused of bullying a middle-school classmate surnamed Wang over a long period before killing him last month.

The grim details of the case, in which the killers reportedly buried Wang’s body in an abandoned greenhouse, drew public attention to how the law deals with juveniles accused of serious crimes.

In 2021, China lowered its age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12 for “special cases” such as inflicting death by “extremely cruel means”.

The Hebei case is thought to be one of the first to apply the lower age limit.

The provincial prosecutor said Monday it had received a police request last month to criminally try the suspects, surnamed Zhang, Li and Ma.

It said it had concluded that the three were between 12 and 14 when they “intentionally committed murder, causing the death of the victim Wang”.

“The circumstances were serious and they should be held criminally responsible,” the provincial office said, adding that the country’s top public prosecutor had reviewed the decision.

“While handling cases strictly in accordance with the law, the procuratorial organs will… further strengthen the prevention and treatment of juvenile crimes,” the provincial prosecutor continued.

Under Chinese law, murder is punishable by imprisonment or the death penalty.