BEIJING: A disabled Chinese man who set off an explosion at Beijing’s international airport was jailed for six years on Tuesday, court authorities said, provoking a new outburst of public sympathy.
Ji Zhongxing, 34, who lost his left hand in the blast in July and appeared for his trial on a stretcher, was convicted of causing an explosion, according to a posting on a verified social media account run by Beijing’s court authorities.
At the time many people online expressed empathy for Ji, a former motorcycle driver who was confined to a wheelchair after reportedly being the victim of a brutal beating by police officers in the southern city of Dongguan in 2005.
Before detonating his homemade device, Ji passed out leaflets highlighting his struggle to sue authorities for the attack and warned passers-by to move away.
The bombing spotlighted how frustration over low-level abuses in China can flare up, analysts said.
Ji had “lost all hope with society” following an unsuccessful battle for compensation, Hong Kong media reported previously.
But the court said any actions to seek justice must be done in a “legal, rational and orderly manner.”
“People must not infringe others’ lawful rights or endanger public safety by taking extreme actions under the name of defending rights,” said court authorities in a separate Sina Weibo post.
But Internet users were critical of the verdict and sentence, offering Ji more sympathy and condemning China’s justice system.
“How many people on the bottom rung of society would choose to ‘defend their rights in a legal manner’? And have China’s bureaucrats and so-called laws defended their rights?” wrote one user under the court posting.
“Those who talk nonsense are either idealists or assisting the evildoers, or they are thugs backed by the powerful.”
Another user said: “[Ji] has been leading such a miserable life but [the court]bullies the weak instead of bringing his case to justice by stopping crimes at the point of origin. Isn’t it afraid of being punished by God?”
Academics have estimated that protests—about anything from abuse to corruption to pollution—top 180,000 a year in China, even as the government devotes vast sums to “stability maintenance.”
But legal paths for Chinese to pursue justice are limited.
Courts are subject to political influence and corruption, and a system meant to let citizens lodge complaints about authorities is ineffective, with petitioners routinely finding themselves detained.