Fri, August 17, 2012
China > Mainland > Nationwide hunt for killer

Shooting victim's wife faces big bills

2012-08-17 02:53:55 GMT2012-08-17 10:53:55(Beijing Time)  China Daily

Wang Min showed only a slight sigh of relief upon hearing that Zhou Kehua, the man who shot her husband in the neck earlier this month, had himself been shot dead by police.

She then sighed even heavier, as the uncertain future of her family loomed over her.

Wang is the wife of Liao Deying, who was shot by Zhou Kehua, China's most wanted robber and killer, outside a bank in the Chongqing's Shapingba district.

Zhou robbed and killed Liao's sister-in-law on Aug 10 and shot Liao in the neck. Liao is still in critical condition and being treated in the intensive care unit of the Xinqiao Hospital in Chongqing.

Zhou was shot dead by two police officers at a residential alley on Tuesday. 

Wang said she was glad to learn that police had killed Zhou. 

But she was not overjoyed. Compared with the sigh of relief that was brought about by the news, she is facing a far more pressing matter: paying the medical bills of her husband, whose odds of recovery are getting increasingly slimmer, and raising their 8-year-old son and 4-month-old daughter.

Wang has seen her husband only three times since he was hospitalized. "He simply did not wake up, no matter how loudly I called his name," Wang said, weeping on the phone.

Contrary to previous reports that Liao is a construction labor contractor who is well-off, Wang said her husband is a migrant worker from Guizhou province who earns only about 3,000 yuan ($470) from odd jobs at construction fields.

Meanwhile, the hospital has asked Wang to get authorities' help to pay Liao's medical bills. But Wang said she does not know whom to talk to, as no government officials have contacted her.

Under hospital rules, it is very likely that Liao's family may have to shoulder his medical bills, according to a China Youth Daily report.

Meanwhile, if Liao deteriorates into a vegetative state, which Wang said is now likely, the medical bills that ensue will far exceed the family's capacity to pay.

Zhou Kehua is alleged to have robbed 555,000 yuan over the past eight years. Police have been able to retrieve only 60,000 yuan.

Wang's worry is not groundless, as in China there is currently no systematic legal or nongovernmental channels that can offer aid to victims in criminal cases, lawyers say. 

"According to the law, whoever infringes people's rights should be responsible for compensating them. However, there is no item that specifies a case when the criminal is incapable of compensation," said Zhao Li, a criminal lawyer at Beijing King and Bond Law Firm. 

In Zhou Kehua's case, his estate would be used to compensate the victims. However, the law does not clarify what should be done when the estate is not enough.

"The civil affairs bureau could compensate the victims at times. But the compensation is purely voluntary," he said.

Zhao said criminal law is more focused on how to punish the crimes, rather than how to protect the victims.

"There is an urgent need for such a compensation system to protect those who suffer from crimes. For the victims, the justice is hardly done if the criminal is incapable of compensation, even though the criminal has been punished," he said. 

Wang Xing, a Beijing-based lawyer from the Hui Cheng Law Firm specializing in criminal cases, said there have been calls for such a government system for a long time.

"This is a serious problem. If the criminal cannot afford the compensation, the victim's family will fall into poverty due to the criminal case," he said.

"Judges would face pressure from the victim to give a harsher penalty to the criminal due to their inability to compensate the victims."

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