The verdict to an eye-catching case that involves brutal killing of a Chinese student in Germany delivered on Friday triggered mixed reactions among local Chinese students.
Although they held different views on the verdict, they all believed that raising safety awareness is very important in the future.
Li Yangjie, 25, a Chinese architecture student, went missing while jogging on the evening of May 11, 2016 in the city of Dessau-Rosslau, the third largest city in the Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany.
Her disfigured body was found abandoned in brush near the crime scene two days later before the police identified the then both 20-year-old male and female suspects.
On Friday, the local court of Dessau-Rosslau sentenced the rapist and murderer, Sebastian F. to lifelong imprisonment, and his accomplice Xenia I. to a youth penalty of five years and six months for sexual coercion.
According to investigators, the two lured Li to an empty apartment and then sexually assaulted and physically abused her. When they found Li was still alive, they carried the severely wounded victim away and abandoned her outside.
Li's attorney Peitzner condemned the perpetrators in an interview with Xinhua, "It's quite bad of what they did because they pretended to need help and Li just wanted to help them. She was a nice girl, and that's what they exploited, which makes it very bad."
JUSTICE SERVED, BUT NOT COMPLETE
While most Chinese students in Germany deemed justice is served in terms of the lifelong sentence handed out to Sebastian F., they were also confused about the light punishment to his accomplice Xenia I..
"Justice is finally served, I feel my pent-up anger over the murderer relieved a bit," said Yang Xiaojuan, a doctorate student of Free University of Berlin, commenting the culprit's penalty.
Chen Cheng, a doctorate student of Humboldt University in Berlin, told Xinhua he believed a light punishment to the accomplice fell short of an effective admonishment and deterrence.
His opinion was also echoed by Lu Xiaozheng, head of the association of Chinese students and scholars of Technical University of Berlin, who couldn't understand the court's sentencing the accomplice according to juvenile penalty code, "despite her young age, she's rather grown up mentally, and should be fully able to take responsibility of what she does."
Peitzner said he was not satisfied with the court judgement that Xenia was not guilty concerning the murder. However, "we are convinced that Xenia did more than the court believes," said Peitzner, adding there was proof that the woman also took part in murder and they will appeal against the woman's verdict.
BE MORE VIGILANT
Chen Cheng said the case indeed caused panic to some extent among Chinese students in Germany. Many Chinese girls he knew bought pepper sprays and whistles upon hearing the horrifying case.
Yang Xiaojuan quitted jogging after she heard the news, instead went only to gym for exercises ever since.
Li's case was followed by a similar case this year in the United States. Zhang Yingying, a female Chinese visiting scholar at the U.S. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), was last seen entering a black Saturn Astra car driven by a 28-year-old white man in June. Zhang, 26, was presumed deceased by the FBI. The case sent a renewed shock wave to Chinese overseas students.
Chen Cheng said, following the two cases, Chinese students became more vigilant, and their parents back home were also worried about their safety.
According to a report by the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think-tank, a total of 1.26 million Chinese students, or one-fourth of international students all over the world, were studying abroad in 2015. The figure was expected to rise further.
The Chinese Embassy in Germany estimated that there are about 50,000 Chinese scholars and students in Germany.
"Raising safety awareness of Chinese scholars and students has topped our working agenda", said Fang Qiang, first secretary of education division of Chinese Embassy in Germany, adding they organise public education sessions on personal safety each year as part of the orientation for new comers.
On the other hand, he also wanted students and parents to understand that cases like Li's was extremely rare in Germany.
To Lu Xiaozheng, the same degree of sense of security as in China is elusive because after all, "it is an unfamiliar environment," but she gave her advice to those who consider studying overseas, "Don't give up your plan for safety concern, but higher vigilance is needed."