A Chinese court sentenced the teenage son of a famous military singer to 10 years in prison for gang rape, closing a case that became a magnet for criticism of the privileged lifestyles of the country’s elite.
Li Tianyi, 17, was one of five people convicted at the Haidian District People’s Court in Beijing today, the state-run China Daily newspaper said on its website. Li, who had pleaded not guilty, and the others allegedly got drunk with a woman at a bar and raped her at a hotel earlier this year.
The punishment fits into a broader a government campaign to crack down on corruption and improve the Communist Party’s image amid criticism of privilege and impunity among the politically connected elite. As a 15-year-old in 2011, Li had attacked a couple who blocked the way of his BMW sports car, the official Xinhua News Agency reported at the time.
The group started drinking with the woman at a Haidian district bar on Feb. 17, according to the court’s verdict. They took her to a hotel where they forced her to take off her clothes and raped her. Li and another defendant later gave the woman 2,000 yuan ($327), the court said.
Li’s family mounted a public defense in his case, arguing that prostitution was involved. His mother, Meng Ge, said in a statement before the verdict that the victim was a bar girl paid to have drinks with customers, according to the South China Morning Post.
Li is the teenage son of Li Shuangjiang, dean of the music department at the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Arts. He is known nationwide for his renditions of patriotic songs.
After Li attacked the couple in 2011, Internet users mocked the song that made Li Shuangjiang famous in the 1970s -- “Red Star Guides Me To Fight.”
The other four people convicted in the gang rape case today got prison sentences ranging from three to 12 years, Xinhua reported.
— With assistance by Henry Sanderson