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Li Tianyi Defense Seeks Retrial, Online Comments Manipulated

Li Tianyi (aka Li Guanfeng).

Li Tianyi (aka Li Guanfeng).

The following article on popular Chinese web portal NetEase is notable for being the most commented article of the day, and for having over 1.1m comment participants at time of translation, a suspiciously high amount many times higher than the articles that are usually NetEase’s “most highly discussed”.

The lengthy article reports that Li Tianyi’s defense are petitioning for a retrial but also includes what the reporter saw on surveillance footage retrieved from the night of the alleged gang-rape and viewed by the court.

The comments sections of past NetEase articles reporting on Li Tianyi’s gang-rape case have been overwhelmingly against him and his family with the most popular comments receiving tens of thousands of upvotes from NetEase netizens and readers.

At time of publishing, the number of comment participants has dropped, indicating that at least some comment participants have been discounted, possibly for artificially manipulating upvotes to make certain comments appear as the “most popular” at the top of the comments section of NetEase…

From NetEase:

Lawyer for Li Tianyi Submits Application for Retrial, Video Evidence Exposed

September 11th, the legal consultant to the Li family Lan He revealed to this reporter that the defense attorney for Li X submitted an “Application for Retrial” on September 11th to the Haidian District Court, as well as arguments from the 12 domestic criminal procedure, legal theory, and forensic exports last Saturday, requesting a second trial as well and petitioning for 6 things including having the victim and expert witnesses appear in court, crime scene investigation, and the exclusion of illegal evidence.

Previously, as a result of the trial being not open to the public, the outside world knew very little of the specifics of the court hearing. Recently, this reporter viewed the video evidence of 4 key locations involved in this case through relevant channels.

These 4 location videos were recording of the locations where the defendant was at on the night of the incident: the elevator entrance of the Global Nightclub and bar area, Jindingxuan Hotel lobby, outside the Jingguoao Hotel entrance, and video surveillance of the Hubei Building entrance lobby, elevators, and the hallway outside the hotel room. The content [of these videos] are relevant to several key disputes in this case.

Previously, one of the focal points in in the dispute over whether or not Li X’s actions constitute rape is whether or not Li Mo had used beatings, coercion, or similar violent acts against the victim Yang X on the night of the incident. The videos that have been made public may contribute towards clarifying several key details.

From the parts of the video that this reporter viewed, the image quality is relatively clear, and the time of the recordings is visible at the top of the screen. Amongst them, the video at Jindingxuan is in color. The sequence of people and events is coherent. However this reporter was unable to confirm from authorities whether or not [the videos] have been previously edited.

This paper used multiple methods to contact both the prosecuting and defense lawyers in this case, seeking confirmation of the authenticity of the material in these videos, as well as whether or not these videos have been shown and cross-examined during trial. Tian Canjun, the attorney for the victim Yang X, did not answer calls or return text messages.

Li Zaike, the defense attorney for another defendant Da Wei [big/older Wei], however disclosed that during the conference for a second trial, the court had specifically arranged 3 days of time for the viewing of the video evidence, amongst which include surveillance video of the key location of the crime as well as pre-trial video of the defendant, so “it wasn’t necessary to show them in court because they had been viewed before, and questions were listed and submitted to the court after the view.” However, he refused to comment on the videos this reporter had seen. He Lan, the legal consultant for the Li family, however indicated that the video evidence of the key locations during the crime had already been authenticated by the time of the trial.

Scene 1: Yang X Followed Li X in Leaving Jindingxuan

The story as unanimously agreed upon by both the prosecution and defense as well as the nightclub involved in the case is that at 12:30am on the day of the incident February 17, Li X drove a white Mercedes-Benz and another defendant elder Wei drove an [Audi] Q7 in arriving at Global Nightclub. Those who also came to the bar that day were Li X’s friend from Hebei Li X, older Wei’s younger brother young Wei, Zhang X, as well as the only adult in this case male Wang X. Victim Yang was also at the bar at the time.

The aforementioned videos this paper’s reporter saw show that around 3:36am in the early morning, Yang X had her right arm wrapped around the nightclub supervisor Zhang X wearing black, the two of them following [defendants] Zhang X and Wang X, the 4 of them walking towards the nightclub’s exit (elder Wei and young Wei were reportedly already outside the nightclub doors starting the cars). Here, Yang X appeared to be unsteady as she walked, appearing to be drunk. Close to her, Li X appeared to make an angry gesture. (According to Li X’s later statements, they were drunk at the time, and they had left the bar arm in arm)

Around 4:21am in the early morning, a total of 8 people including the 5 defendants as well as Yang X wearing black with high heels, nightclub supervisor Zhang X, and Li X’s friend Li X appeared in the lobby of Shijijinyan Jindingxuan Hotel and one after another sat down in a ring-shaped seat, where Yang X immediately put her head down on the table.

At 4:30am, Yang X rose and left, walked out of Jindingxuan (later known to have gone to use the restroom in the KFC next door). At 4:36am, Yang X returned to Jindingxuan and put her head down at a small rectangular table several tables away from Li X’s party. 2 minutes later, she raised her head and waved, asked wait staff for a cup of water, and then in turn appeared to comb her hair and rummage through her purse.

At 4:43am in the early morning, Li X and Wang X had an argument with a male-female couple at an adjacent table, with the male throwing chair over and Wang X also throwing a chair in return. The tall and large Li X rose and joined in, with both sides engaging in a physical altercation, later separated by the hotel’s security. The conflict lasted about 3 minutes.

When the fight first broke out, Yang X took a drink from the cup of water in front of her. When both sides were engaged in physical altercation, Yang X was seated nearby and had turned her head to watch the two sides fighting. Between this, she had tidied her hair multiple times with her hands.

4:46am, Li X took the lead in leaving Jindingxuan, with the other 4 defendants and the nightclub supervisor Zhang leaving behind him. Yang X also picked up her purse, stood up, and was the last amongst this group of people to leave Jindingxuan.

(What all the parties agree upon is that after leaving Jindingxuan, this party of 8 people arrived at the Renjishanzhuang underground garage where Li X lives. There is no video evidence for what happened at this place. According to provided testimony, nightclub supervisor Zhang X left the underground garage in the car of the Li X from Hebei [Li Tianyi’s friend]. The 5 defendants and Yang X left as passengers in the elder Wei’s [Audi] Q7.

Scene 2: Li X’s hand slowly lifted up

Video shows that at past 5am in the early morning, this [Audi] Q7 appeared at the entrance of the Haidian district Jinguoao Hotel, where the older Wei and [defendant] Zhang X got off and walked into the hotel lobby (later known to go to the front desk to get rooms). Li X and Wang X also got off the car, walked around near the [Audi] Q7, while the younger Wei and Yang X were not seen getting out of the car. Afterward, Li X opened a car door once and then closed it. Around 5:20am in the early morning, the younger Wei also got out of the car and along with Li X and Wang X stood together chatting, while Yang X should be the only person left in the car. (All parties agree that afterward, the elder Wei and Zhang X who had entered Jinguoao Hotel to check out the rooms had felt that the hotel’s rooms were not ideal, so the entire party got back into the [Audi] Q7 and left.)

The elder Wei’s [Audi] Q7 left Jinguoao Hotel at 5:20am. At 5:58am, [defendant] Zhang X and the elder Wei one after another appeared in the lobby of the Hubei Building Hotel. At 5:59am, Li X, Wang X, and [victim] Yang X appeared together in the hotel lobby’s video. Yang X was walking between Li X and Wang X, the three of them entering the lobby through the Hubei Building’s rotating doors, with the younger Wei following behind. In this video lasting less than a minute, Yang X appeared to wrap her right hand/arm around Li X’s left elbow.

Soon after, Li X, Wang X, Yang X, and the younger Wei entered the Hubei Building elevator. The elevator surveillance video shows Yang X grabbing Li X’s hand as well as putting it on Li X’s abdomen. While in the elevator, Li X slowly lifted up his right hand once and then slowly placed it on Yang X’s hand.

Afterward, the surveillance footage of the hotel’s hallway shows that at 7:26am in the early morning, a group of people came out of a hotel room and entered the elevator one by one. Around 7:29am, Li X’s party left the hotel. The recording shows that Yang X left while being supported by Wang X.

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These videos were strung together in a series, without any obvious traces of being edited.

The wrestling/disputes revolving around the video evidence

However, with regards to the previous circumstances as well as how to ultimately determine [these videos’s] mutual corroboration and cause-and-effect with the chain of evidence, remains to be determined by the court.

The description of the events in this case as obtained by this paper’s reporter from the prosecution’s charges is: 2013 February 17 around 5am, after the 5 defendants Li X, Wang X, the elder Wei, Zhang X, and the younger Wei consumed alcohol in a private room of a Haidian district nightclub with the victim Yang X (female, 23 years old at time of crime), they forcibly took her to Room 8915 at the Hubei Building, “using violent beatings to have sexual relations with Yang X one after another, causing bruises and light injuries to her left eyelid, nose, temple, and cheek.”

However, the interpretation of the aforementioned videos by Li X’s lawyer Chen Shu is that everything show in the video does not indicate that Yang X was coerced to go to the scene of the incident/crime, nor has it been found that Li X had beaten or used other violence against Yang X.

“From these 4 surveillance videos as well as numerous witness testimony, semen DNA analysis and crime scene investigation results, as well as several other objective witness testimony, we believe if this case is judged using objective material evidence and the testimony of witnesses without a vital interest [who do not stand to gain or lose], it would definitely be not guilty.” Chen Shu claims he has already seized a “not guilty chain of evidence”.

This paper’s reporter attempted to reach the victim Yang X’s attorney, Tian Canjun, using multiple methods including telephone and text message, attempting to get a comment from him regarding the aforementioned video evidence, but his phone went unanswered nor did he return text messages.

Tian Canjun previously told this paper’s reporter that Li X had beaten Yang X at the time of the crime. He had also repeatedly stressed that this case is a case involving 5 defendants committing a crime together, and as a result, “even if only one person committed rape and the other people only participated, for example by inviting the victim over or beating, threatening, coercing, etc. the victim, these other people would all also be convicted of rape.”

The elder Wei’s lawyer, Li Zaike, on condition that this paper’s reporter not make public the source of the videos, explicitly expressed no comment with regards to the videos whose sources are unknown.

Li Zaike previously described during an interview with this paper’s reporter that after learning in the Jishanzhuang underground garage that the bar’s supervisor Zhang X had already left, Yang X changed her mind and refused to have sexual relations with Li X, “so Li X thrashed Yang X multiple times, hitting her rather severely, and had also hit her inside the Hubei Building elevator.”

The latest development in this case was that at 2pm on the afternoon of September 7th, the lawyers of the Li Family invited 12 criminal law experts and senior lawyers to provide a one-time discussion and consultation of this case, providing the case and video evidence to the experts to discuss and analyze. […]

The meeting that day lasted 4.5 hours. Meng Ge also attended, and made a statement regarding the case as a guardian. When the experts and lawyers expressed their opinion about the case, Meng Ge left the meeting room to [avoid influencing the discussions], only returning after the meeting was about to end.

After viewing the video evidence and thumbing through the case evidence, several experts participating in the meeting believe that “in light of there being some flaws in [this case’s] procedure, [they] recommend Li X’s lawyer request another trial and petition for the victim Yang X and forensic witnesses to appear in court in order to determine the truth.

Participating attorney Tian Wenchang expressed that a conviction of rape ultimately depends on whether or not a woman’s consent was violated, while use of violence and violating a woman’s consent have a cause and effect relationship, “Yang X’s gait and look in the video recordings, these objective evidence still do not eliminate the existence of rape, nor do they prove the existence of rape. I think the videos currently do not prove anything, are unable to prove that there wasn’t use of violence as well as unable to prove the existence of violence.”

Participating attorney Xu Lanting claims the determination of rape mainly looks at whether or not a woman’s consent was violated, and with regards to certain key points in this case, for example, “whether or not sexual relations occurred, who had sexual relations? Whether they were drunk? Whether or not there was acts of violence, and if there were, did it happen before, during, or after, and for what reason the beatings occurred? What happened inside the room? No matter what happened earlier, did any beating occur in the room… These all need to be figured out.”

“There are indeed things to dispute in this case, and relevant evidence still needs to be investigated,” expressed Xu Lanting.

Comments from NetEase:

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冬骅数位音讯 [网易北京市网友]:

Miss Yang [or Prostitute Yang], was it satisfying?
So you setup Li Tianyi and after unsuccessfully trying to extort and blackmail him, you call the police and demand compensation, because you’ll be able to get money all the same?
Not bad, not bad, you’ve found a quick road to riches for the millions of prostitutes out there!
Those who support executing Miss Yang by firing squad, ding this up!

[Note: Over 470k upvotes at time of translation, comment has been since been removed from the “popular comments” section.]

冬骅数位音讯 [网易湖北省咸宁市网友]: (Note: This is the same commenter as the first comment)

The Li Tianyi case to this day can already be clearly understood using an ordinary person’s intelligence. An adult prostitute accompanied 5 minor children in drinking alcohol in a bar/nightclub as arranged by the bar/nightclub’s management. Afterward, the nighclub’s management unilaterally introduced and recommended the female surnamed Yang to the 5 minors to provide sexual services. After the price for the prostitution was discussed and agreed upon, this female accompanied by the nightclub management escorted the 5 minors together to get a hotel room to provide them and collect payment for sexual services. The next day, the nightclub’s employees and the female surnamed Yang extorted Li Tianyi according to plan. When they were unsuccessful in extorting 500k yuan, they framed the 5 minors for rape, causing the 5 minors to be arrested.
It can be seen that this is a case of prostitution + extortion. The group of 5 including Li X had hired a prostitute and were extorted. In this case, rape is a false proposition and the violation of a female’s consent is nonsense, and the occurrence of sexual relations was unilaterally initiated by the female surnamed Yang and the nightclub’s management, and the female surnamed Yang was the initiator of sexual relations. Even if in the course of providing sexual services a dispute arises regarding payment for the prostitution, it is still a conflict between the sex-worker and the john and does not affect the essential nature of this case being that of prostitution. This is just like you buying an air conditioner and having an argument with the manufacturer’s customer service for a problem after the purchase, which does not signify that the air conditioner has become something you stole.
Obviously, in this case of prostitution and extortion, the true criminal is this sex-selling woman and the nightclub’s management, with their crimes including prostitution, organizing prostitution, extortion and blackmail, and false accusations/framing people. Whereas the problem of the 5 minors was in visiting/hiring a prostitute.
However, what’s strange is that the police arrested the 5 minors but didn’t go investigate the real criminals—-the female prostitute and the nightclub’s management. Not only were they not investigated, they even became a party that was protected. Beijing’s public security authorities is currently assisting them in punishing those 5 children and families who were unwilling to be extorted, assisting them in getting the 500k yuan of extorted ill-gotten wealth, unbelievable! The public security authorities and especially the police who are supposed to undertake the responsibility of cracking down on prostitution and extortion have instead become a protective umbrella for the female prostitute, listening only to the female prostitute. Anyone who requests that the question of prostitution be investigated, they immediately deny it: “We do not have plans to investigate the question of prostitution”, as if they feared the female prostitute getting angry if they denied it too slowly. So how could Beijing not become the heaven for prostitutes?
It can be said that this case has been handled extremely poorly, not only punishing people who should not have been punished in the first place, but also giving society an extremely bad signal in protecting and providing preferential treatment to the female prostitute, the being that there is no risk in prostitution, that one can commit extortion through prostitution, that extortion through prostitution enjoys protection, that prostitution is very honorable, that whores are noble, and sex-workers are high level people. This makes a social environment that is already degenerate even worse, severely misleading the values of young females.
Beijing’s public security authorities and departments should quickly correct their error, return themselves to the duty of cracking down on prostitution and extortion, immediate release the minors who have already been mistakenly detained for an excessive period of time, immediately investigate and deal with the people engaged in prostitution, extortion, and framing, give society a responsible result, and not let Beijing become a heaven for prostitutes.

[Note: Over 170k upvotes at time of translation, comment has been since been removed from the “popular comments” section.]

网易广东省广州市手机网友 ip:113.119.*.*:

For each ding, Li X eats a bullet.

[Note: Over 150k upvotes at time of translation.]

冬骅数位音讯 [网易湖北省咸宁市网友]: (Note: This is the same commenter as the first comment)

According to information exposed on the internet, this Miss Yang’s alias is Yang Jia. Her real name is Yang Xiaohua, a peasant from Hebei Yangyuan county Dongjingji town, and has worked as a hostess/prostitute in a KTV in the past.
Additionally, according to information exposed by a Zhejiang netizen, Miss Yang used to be a hostess/prostitute at a KTV in Zhejiang province Yueqing city, and has reported rapes multiple times, involving similar methods. When reporting a case in 2009, it was also a gang-rape, demanding over 100,000 yuan, afterwards leaving Yueqing for Beijing where she resumed her old trade [as prostitute or conman].
I hope netizens will spread the information they know about this person, to expose this person’s true face as someone who uses prostitution to commit extortion.

Miss Yang, quickly come out to prostitute yourself again. Don’t let your “married vagina” black fungus go to waste!

[Note: Over 90k upvotes at time of translation, comment has been since been removed from the “popular comments” section.]

我是处长我怕谁 [网易江西省南昌市手机网友]:

Kill Tianyi, bring justice to the world.

[Note: Over 50k upvotes at time of translation.]

网易北京市手机网友 ip:219.141.*.*:

Speechless. Everyone knows what kind of trash Li Tianyi is.

关公哥 [网易江苏省南京市手机网友]:

This lawyer is going to be rich.

网易浙江省台州市网友 ip:115.201.*.*:

Video that is taken out of context can’t prove anything, Tianyi should be shot dead.

网易浙江省温州市手机网友 ip:122.239.*.*: (responding to 冬骅数位音讯)

Seeing these water army [people hired to comment online on behalf of or against someone] posts/comments, profoundly shows how powerful the Li family is. I now know why the elderly often say the people cannot fight the government/government officials [Li’s parents are ranking civilian members of the PLA].

网易上海市手机网友(112.64.*.*): (also responding to 冬骅数位音讯)

The water army are truly frightening!

网易内蒙古赤峰市网友 [冷点鱼]: (responding to above)

The water army are truly shameless!

网易广东省深圳市手机网友 ip:112.97.*.*: (responding to above)

The water army are truly ignorant!

立正与天 [网易浙江省宁波市手机网友]: (also responding to 冬骅数位音讯)

Li Tianyi’s water army have gone crazy, over 10k upvotes in 3 minutes, amusing themselves, getting a reporter to report on a closed meeting, is this mounting an out-of-court defense?

盽曮 [网易广东省深圳市网友]: (also responding to 冬骅数位音讯)

Look at how the animal above uses upvoting software to rape public opinion. If this animal has Taobao [冬骅数位音讯’s NetEase commenter profile linked to a Taobao shop] or any other channel of sales, I recommend everyone collectively give negative feedback. This animal going against public opinion is actually just to attract eyeballs and advertise. No one needs to respond to this animal’s comments, even if you want to curse this animal. I strongly protest against NetEase, always expressing an attitude [independence, principles], yet allowing this animal to do whatever he pleases [manipulate the comments and voting], so where is NetEase’s attitude now??? Or could it be that [NetEase] is just trying to advertise [get attention] like this animal???

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

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