China policeman sentenced to death for killing pregnant woman while drunk

BEIJING (AFP) - A policeman in China was sentenced to death on Monday for fatally shooting a pregnant woman and injuring her husband while drunk, authorities said.

Hu Ping was also ordered to pay the victim's family 73,324 yuan (S$15,172), according to the Guigang Intermediate People's Court in the southern region of Guangxi.

The case sparked outrage among China's Internet users after it was first reported in October.

According to the Shanghai Daily, the pregnant woman Wu Ying, and her husband Cai Shiyong were tending to their rice noodle store when Hu, drunk and shirtless, entered and demanded milk tea.

After the woman responded that the store did not serve milk tea, the officer opened fire, wounding Cai in the shoulder and killing Wu and her unborn child.

Internet users welcomed the sentence, with one poster on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, saying: "Death would not be a sufficient punishment for his crime."

Stories of abuses involving police and "chengguan", or urban management officers, regularly trigger outcry in China.

In one of the highest-profile examples, four chengguan in the central province of Hunan were sentenced in December to between three and a half and 11 years' jail over a dispute that left a roadside watermelon vendor dead.

Local media reported that the officers beat the vendor to death for operating without a licence, with one smashing his head with a metal measuring weight.

In 2009, a police officer in south-west China's Yunnan province was sentenced to death for killing a man in an argument, although the sentence was later commuted.

Chengguan, who are tasked with enforcing local government regulations, have gained particular notoriety among the Chinese public for abusing their power.

In the weeks after the Hu case hit the headlines, Beijing announced that it was banning police officers drinking outside their own home, the state-run Global Times reported.

Reports said Hu would appeal against the sentence.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.