China rape victim's mother begins court case

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese woman sent to a labour camp for demanding seven men who kidnapped, raped and forced her then 11-year-old daughter into prostitution be punished went to court on Friday to sue for compensation.

Ms Tang Hui was last year sentenced to 18 months in a "re-education" labour camp after she repeatedly protested to demand justice for her daughter's ordeal in 2006.

Seven men were finally convicted last June, with two condemned to death, four given life sentences and one jailed for 15 years. Ms Tang then sought harsher punishment for the accused.

Two months later she was detained, triggering a public outcry that saw her released after eight days.

Ms Tang is suing the local body that oversees labour camp punishments in Yongzhou, in central China, demanding 1,463.85 yuan (S$292) for the loss of her personal freedom, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the court.

"Before and after the sentences were handed down, Ms Tang had repeatedly petitioned in front of government buildings, complaining that the local police had falsified evidence to reduce the sentences of those involved," Xinhua said.

She was sentenced for "seriously disturbing social order and exerting a negative impact on society", Xinhua added.

The news agency, along with state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) were the only media allowed into the Yongzhou Intermediate People's court, according to online reports.

China's re-education through labour system gives police the right to hand out sentences of up to four years without a judicial trial. A 2009 United Nations report estimated that 190,000 Chinese were locked up in such facilities.

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