Three children face death penalty for beating 13-year-old classmate to death

Three minors in China are facing the possibility of the death penalty after allegedly beating their 13-year-old classmate to death in Hebei province. The suspects, all under 14 years old at the time of the incident, are accused of subjecting their classmate, identified only as Wang, to prolonged bullying before fatally assaulting him. Surveillance footage captured moments leading up to Wang’s death, showing him surrounded by the three classmates on March 10. An hour later, his phone stopped functioning, prompting a search by relatives. Tragically, the boy’s body was discovered the following day, buried under a tarp in an abandoned vegetable greenhouse.

‘He was beaten alive and his body was disfigured beyond recognition,’ Wang’s father wrote on Douyin, a Chinese social media platform. ‘I hope the government will be fair, open and just, punish them severely, and that the killers will pay with their lives.’

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Authorities in Feixiang district of Handan city, identifying the victim as Wang, stated that he was killed on March 10, with the suspects detained the next day. According to a police investigator interviewed by state broadcaster CCTV, the crime was premeditated, with the suspects digging a pit twice, once the day before and again on the day of the killing.

Reports from Wang’s relatives and their legal representative indicate that he had been a long-term victim of bullying, allegedly forced to give money to one of his classmates before the fatal incident. The suspects were identified through surveillance footage and questioning of classmates.

The provincial prosecutor has received a police request to criminally try the suspects—surnamed Zhang, Li, and Ma—after determining that they were between the ages of 12 and 14 when they “intentionally committed murder, causing the death of the victim Wang.”

‘The circumstances were serious and they should be held criminally responsible,’ the provincial office said, adding that the country’s top public prosecutor had reviewed the decision.

‘While handling cases strictly in accordance with the law, the procuratorial organs will… further strengthen the prevention and treatment of juvenile crimes,’ the provincial prosecutor continued.

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Under Chinese law, murder is punishable by imprisonment or the death penalty.

Zhang Dongshuo, a defense attorney in Beijing unaffiliated with the case, said that Wang’s death is the latest in a series of juvenile murder cases in China that have sparked debate on how old a child should be before being held responsible for a crime.

‘Generally speaking, these kinds of cases involving minors are rare,’ Zhang said. ‘But recently more and more of these cases have been reported by the media, and it’s been triggering discussion in Chinese society over revising the age of criminal responsibility.’

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