China’s active Twitter-like Weibo users are likely to keep a close watch on developments in the trial of a famous army singer’s teenage son, suspected to be involved in a gang-rape, which began in Beijing on Wednesday.
Online fury had erupted in February when the primary accused, son of Li Shuangjiang, People’s Liberation Army’s music department dean, was arrested along with four others for raping the victim after getting her drunk in a bar.
The five were detained after the victim, identified by the state media as Yang, reported to the police that she was forced to accompany the suspects from the bar to a hotel where she was then assaulted.
Much like in India, the perception in China is that the children of the powerful and the rich lead a lavish lifestyle and can get away with any crime.
Bloggers often cite cases where cases involving the children of the powerful are carefully covered up; even references of the cases are removed from the internet.
There are more than 581 millions internet users in China and many recent cases of corruption and scandal were broken by the more active among them.
Following the detention of the five, Chinese bloggers had recounted that it wasn’t the first time that the younger Li, 17, had had a brush with the authorities.
Two years ago, the 17-year-old and another teenager attacked a couple who allegedly blocked their driveway near the entrance of a residential community in Beijing.
He was later sent to a government correctional facility for one year.
The Beijing Haidian District People's Procuratorate filed rape charges against the five suspects on July 8.
State media reported that during the detention of the suspects, the defence and prosecution debated whether it was a case of rape or whether the victim was willing to have sex for money but later fell out with the group.
The 17-year-old’s mother, Meng Ge, had made headlines recently when she had attempted to cast allegations on the woman’s character and had demanded an open trial of the case.
But the court refused her as the case involved juveniles.
Meng had also accused the owner of the bar, from where the victim was befriended by the accused, of running pimping and extortion rackets.
State media quoted Tian Canjun, the victim’s lawyer as saying that she was under great psychological stress and had been hospitalised following the incident. She will not participate in the trial.