‘Princling’ son (17) of Chinese general denies part in rape

Widespread public fury as trial of Li Tianyi begins

Li Tianyi performs during his solo concert at a odeum of China National Orchestra in Beijing, August 19th, 2011. The teenage son of a prominent Chinese general has denied his involvement in a gang rape, on the first day of his trial that has caused widespread public fury. Photograph: Reuters

Li Tianyi performs during his solo concert at a odeum of China National Orchestra in Beijing, August 19th, 2011. The teenage son of a prominent Chinese general has denied his involvement in a gang rape, on the first day of his trial that has caused widespread public fury. Photograph: Reuters

 



Li Tianyi, the teenage son of a well-known People’s Liberation Army (PLA) singer, denied his involvement in a gang rape on the first day of his trial that has caused widespread public fury.

Mr Li (17) is one of five men accused of gang raping a 23-year-old woman, surnamed Yang, in a hotel in Haidian in the west of Beijing in February after a night of drinking, according to Chinese media.

He told the court he was drunk and could not remember anything of the evening, but denied beating the woman or having sex with her. The court is being held behind closed doors, as three of the four accused are minors.

His father is Li Shuangjiang, a PLA general and dean of the PLA academy of arts, and a singer known for performing patriotic songs on television shows and at official events. His mother, Meng Ge, is also a famous PLA singer.

Chen Shu, Mr Li’s lawyer, insists his client is innocent and claimed that the woman was a prostitute, and the matter should be tried as a prostitution case rather than rape.

The case has transfixed China for weeks, as many believe that the “princelings”, or children of major Communist Party figures, see themselves as above the law, arrogant and corrupt. It comes just days after the lurid details of party excess revealed during the trial on corruption charges of former Communist Party chief Bo Xilai.

The teenager was previously sentenced to detention for a year in 2011 over a road rage incident, which triggered a similar public outcry. While driving a BMW with no number plates, he assaulted a middle-aged couple in another car that got in his way, and shouted at bystanders telling them not to “dare to call the police”. His father subsequently apologised to the couple over the incident.

The public is increasingly impatient with the behaviour of the “taizidang” or princelings.

In 2010, the 22-year-old son of a senior police official ran over and killed a student and shouted: “Sue me! My father is Li Gang! ” The phrase has entered the language as a way of describing appalling behaviour and nepotism by the children of the elite.