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Retrial announcement follows public outcry

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In a rare show of judicial sensitivity to public sentiment, the Yunnan Province High People's Court has announced that it will retry a man whose death sentence it had recently commuted to life in prison.

The decision to retry the man, Li Changkui (李昌奎), who had been found guilty in a 2009 rape and double-murder case in northeast Yunnan's Zhaotong prefecture, came after an outpouring of public support via the internet and direct financial contributions to the victims' family. It has also raised eyebrows throughout mainland legal circles.

In July 2010 the Zhaotong Municipal Intermediate People's Court sentenced Li to death and ordered him to pay 30,000 yuan (US$4,600) to Wang Tingli, father of the two victims.

Li reportedly visited the home of the Wang family, with whom he had a history of problems, and quarreled with 19-year-old Wang Jiafei, then raping her and beating her to death with a hoe. Li is believed to have beaten Wang's three-year-old brother Wang Jiahong to death afterward.

In March of this year, Li was shown leniency by the provincial high court, which gave him a two-year reprieve on his death sentence – which typically translates to life in prison. The reduced sentence was justified on grounds that Li had turned himself in and was willing to compensate the Wang family.

The Wang family has pressed for the court to rescind Li's reduced sentence and has received substantial support from Chinese netizens around the country.

Supporters have reportedly contributed 50,000 yuan to the Wang family to assist with legal costs. The family has employed a lawyer from Beijing to represent them in court with the announced aim of reinstating Li's original death sentence.

The case of Li Changkui contains echoes of the 2009 "eluding the cat" case in Jinning county, in which Jinning police initially claimed that a young man died in police custody because he was playing an especially lively version of a Chinese game similar to hide and seek with other inmates.

After the case became the target of much criticism and mockery throughout the Chinese internet, a new investigation into the case was opened and the initial explanation of the man's death was reversed, with several officials receiving demotions.

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Sounds like a horrendous case but I can't see why anyone would want to encourage Chinese courts to issue more death sentences than they already do since the country already executes more people than the rest of the world put together.

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