The arrest of the son of a notable Chinese official over gang-rape charges has already sparked controversy across the nation. Now, new details have emerged that suggest the high-school aged teen may have lied about his age.
Li Tianyi is the son of one of China’s most famous military leaders, 74-year-old General Li Shuangjing. Last month, the younger Li was detained in connection with an alleged gang rape that occurred in a Beijing hotel.
Li was reportedly born in April of 1996, making him 16 years old and a minor -- which would mean that if convicted, he would face a more lenient sentence. But according to evidence obtained by the South China Morning Post, Li is much older.
If tried as a minor, the maximum sentence Li could receive would be a 10 years in prison, according to Zhang Yunzhang, a criminal law expert. That is unlikely, however, considering the status of his high-profile father. But if tried as an adult, and if convicted, Li would face a minimum of 10 years behind bars -- and could be sentenced to death.
Initial doubts about the accused Li’s age arose after a video of an interview with his parents made its way through the web. The video footage has Li’s parents saying his son was 12 in 2006, meaning he was born in 1994. However, most of the classmates of the accused at a local Beijing school are 19. The South China Morning Post included a class photo from the school, which confirmed his attendance.
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Though this does not directly prove the age given was forged, the school denies it accepts 4-year-olds, which is how old Li would have had to be in order to currently be 16 and graduate in 2006.
None of his classmates that were interviewed could confirm the boy's age, but they did recall his behavior.
“He liked to hang out with the naughty boys in the class,” a classmate mentioned.
Li served a year in China’s version of juvenile detention after he and a friend assaulted a couple in Beijing. Some media reports have implied that he was released early from his year-long sentence, but his family insists he served the full term.