Local authority urges keeping a clear mind on news reports
The law department of a city in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province urged netizens to keep a clear mind on Thursday after several news reports questioned a teenage girl for claiming she was raped by a dozen of her relatives who had since been jailed, in a case a decade ago.
"We urge netizens not to believe in some people who deliberately create confusion," according to a notice of the political and law committee of Wudalianchi city released on Thursday.
The notice said that in 2008, the victim, surnamed Tang (or known online as Tang Lanlan), was less than 14 years old when she was allegedly raped by more than 10 relatives and villagers, who were then sentenced to five to 15 years in 2010.
After Tang's mother, surnamed Wan, was released from jail in June 2017, she appealed several times, claiming to be tortured into confessing. She asked media to play up the incident and attempted to reverse the verdict, the notice said.
"We ask the people involved to deal with their appeals according to the law and regulations," the notice said.
Two released from prison were caught on Sunday by police in Wudalianchi for buying sex during an anti-prostitution campaign, it said.
Tang's mother Wan Xiuling and aunt Tang Yumei, whose husband Liu Changhai was also sentenced, appealed to the Supreme People's Procuratorate of China, reported the Yangtse Evening Post's Ziniu News on Wednesday.
Fu Jian, Tang Yumei's lawyer, told the Global Times that the case lacks evidence - the suspects all denied their involvement, and two were sentenced without any testimonies.
"Tang Lanlan was against her family, and Tang Yumei has been appealing for the family for 10 years," Fu said, "We have appealed to the Supreme People's Procuratorate several times but received no reply so far."
Five of the 11 have been release so far, including Wan, who felt Tang had been instigated by others to fabricate the incident and has been asking lawyers to appeal, according to the Ziniu News report.
Tang changed her identity and had since moved out. Wan is also looking for Tang, in hoping her daughter could clarify the matter.
But after reports on Tang were made, thousands of netizens criticized media for violating Tang's privacy and rights.
"If Tang Lanlan is with you, please protect and hide her, because people who want to seek revenge have been released from prison," "Wuhoude Shuiyao," a Sina Weibo user, appealed. The tweet garnered more than 32,000 reposts and 21,800 likes, with most people supporting Tang's protection.
If a defendant feels she was unjustly charged, she should appeal according to law, instead of inciting media to find the victim. "If media adds fuel to the fire, it would become an accomplice," Tang Yunxiu, a Sina Weibo user who claims to be a lawyer from Chengdu, Sichuan Province said on his Sina Weibo account.
"The case is suspicious, but media reports have also pushed Tang at the center of suspicions," Luo Ruixue, a member of women's rights group Women Awakening Network, told the Global Times on Thursday.