TV in court for China murder trial

Coverage has been uncharacteristically sympathetic to accused

SHANGHAI — The trial of a man accused of murdering 10 people at a Taoist temple will be broadcast this week after a decision by the court to allow a TV crew into the proceedings.

Qiu Xinghua, a 47-year-old farmer, is charged with hacking to death the abbot of Tiewadian Temple in Ankang in Shaanxi Province, as well as four staff members and five visitors.

The murders took place in mid-July, and Qiu was arrested a month later after a nationwide manhunt.

The case has attracted extensive coverage from national and local media, and the trial, which begins Thursday, will be broadcast by local Ankang Television Station.

Two years ago, the case of college student Ma Jiajue, who killed four of his classmates after accusations of cheating during a card game, attracted similar attention.

In both cases, coverage has been uncharacteristically sympathetic to the accused, going to some lengths to explain the psychological pressures on the poor.

Televised trials are relatively common in China, going back to the trial of the so-called Gang of Four — Mao’s cohorts — who were convicted of persecuting 700,000 people and held directly responsible for 35,000 deaths during the Cultural Revolution.

Ma was executed after being found guilty of the four murders. If convicted, Qiu also is likely to face the death penalty. Chinese law lists 68 crimes — including tax evasion and drug smuggling — as punishable by death.

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