|The trial of Li Tianyi, son of famous PLA singers Li Shuangjiang and Meng Ge, attracts media attention in Beijing on Wednesday. Li and four other men are accused of gang-raping a woman at a hotel in February. Wang Jing / China Daily|
The teenage son of two well-known military singers pleaded not guilty to gang rape on Wednesday, claiming he was drunk on the night in question and did not have sexual relations with the female plaintiff.
Li Tianyi, the 17-year-old son of Li Shuangjiang and Meng Ge, both prominent PLA singers, is charged with taking part in the gang-rape of a woman, along with another four suspects, in a hotel after a night of drinking in Beijing's Haidian district on Feb 17. He was detained on Feb 20, according to previous reports.
The case was heard in the district people's court on Wednesday from 9:30 am to 6:45 pm, attracting many journalists.
The woman, 23, was not present at the opening day of the trial, which is due to continue on Thursday.
The Beijing High People's Court said via its micro blog that the first day of the trial focused on collecting evidence and hearing opinions from the defendants and prosecutors.
The case is not a public hearing because it involves minors, whose privacy must be protected by law.
During the trial, Li was questioned about the alleged gang rape and said he was sleepy that night because he had been drinking, Beijing News quoted an insider as saying on Wednesday.
Neither the court nor the lawyers involved confirmed Li had made that statement.
Meng Ge, Li's mother, arrived at the court at 9:10 am, but she did not answer any questions.
The high-profile case has been hotly debated for more than six months and has caused much controversy.
Beijing Haidian District People's Procuratorate learned of the case on May 6, but it was only on July 4 that it required the police to make supplementary investigations.
Between May and July, Li's original lawyer quit the case. The police also revealed the parents of the other four suspects were not from prominent backgrounds. On July 8, the prosecuting authority charged the five suspects with rape.
The public discussion did not end with news of the prosecution, as lawyers representing both the suspects and the woman started releasing statements about the case online.
Before Wednesday's trial, the court held two meetings for the parties, at which they disagreed on whether it was a gang-rape or a case of prostitution.
Li's mother applied to make the trial a public hearing via her lawyer, Lan He, but the motion was refused by the court.
Chen Shu, Li's new lawyer, insisted his client was innocent and cast doubt on the woman's profession, claiming she was a "hostess", or prostitute.
Last week, Tian Canjun, the woman's lawyer, said his client is under great psychological stress and has been hospitalized in the capital, adding she would not participate in the trial.
Lan said online before the trial he hoped the court would identify the woman, "because there are too many saying things about her profession and the confirmation of that will be helpful to clarify the facts".
The suspect Li is the second child of Li Shuangjiang. This case is not his first brush with the law.
At the age of 15, Li and a friend, driving expensive cars without licenses, attacked a couple that allegedly stood in their way and scoffed at onlookers about calling the police. He was sentenced to one year in a juvenile correctional facility.
• Feb 19 Beijing police received a report from a woman accusing five men, including Li Tianyi, son of well-known People's Liberation Army singers Li Shuangjiang and Meng Ge, of gang-raping her in a hotel after having drinks at a bar in the Wudaokou neighborhood of Beijing's Haidian district on Feb 17.
• Feb 20 Police detained the five suspects.
• March 7 Haidian district prosecutors approved the arrest of Li and the other four suspects.
• March 19 Meng, Li's mother, confirmed that Li was a minor at the time of the alleged rape.
• May 6 District prosecutors received the case.
• July 2 Police denied that the parents of the other four suspects have "prominent" backgrounds.
• July 4 Prosecutors said they sent the case back to the police for further investigation. Four days later, prosecutors charged the five suspects, including Li, with rape.
• July 14 Li's attorneys raised doubts about the woman's integrity, claiming she was a "hostess", or prostitute. The victim denied the accusations through her lawyer the next day.
• Aug 6, 15 and 19 Meng submitted material to police accusing bar manager Zhang Guangyao of blackmail and introducing women into prostitution.