A Chinese court has rescinded a life sentence handed to man who killed a loan shark who had sexually taunted his mother, in a case that has made national headlines and ignited heated online debate.

The government has promised to redress miscarriages of justice after several high profile cases, including wrongful executions of people later proven to be not guilty.

But the case of Yu Huan, who on Friday had his life sentence cut to five years following a retrial, has also prompted debate about whether widespread public anger over the initial verdict had a bearing on the much more lenient final outcome.

Yu, from Liaocheng in Shandong province, was sentenced to life in jail in February after he used a knife to attack four of his mother’s creditors who taunted and exposed themselves to his mother while demanding a 1 million yuan ($146,000) debt be repaid in April last year, according to state media. One of the creditors died.

In demanding repayment, one of the creditors exposed his “nether regions” and “gyrated” in front of Yu’s mother while flicking cigarette butts at her and forcing her to smell Yu’s shoes, the Shandong High Court said in its judgement.

Widely referred in media as the “Dishonoured Mother case”, the initial sentence evoked widespread sympathy for Yu, whose defence of his mother resonated in a country where filial piety is considered a core value.

The court said that while Yu acted in part to protect his mother, a five-year sentence was appropriate given his actions went beyond reasonable self-defence, and that he later resisted arrest when police arrived.

The verdict was a top-trending topic on the Weibo social media platform. While many users were pleased the court took into account he was protecting his mother, some felt a five-year jail term was too lenient.

“Public opinion has to an extent influenced the judiciary,” one Weibo user said.

Acknowledging the interest in the case, the court released a statement explaining how it reached its verdict.

“The media coverage of the Yu Huan case has ignited widespread attention,” it said.

“Today, the Shandong High Court handed down its verdict in accordance with the law, and while the retrial process has ended, we will continue to seriously reflect on and sum up the case.”

Reuters

An emergency response volunteer went into cardiac arrest while helping to remove bodies from the scene of a “horrific” car accident in which two teenage siblings and a 70-year-old man were killed.

Eric Neibaur, 15, and his 13-year-old sister Lauren Neibaur died when their pick-up truck collided with Jay Lanningham’s vehicle on a major road in the US state of Idaho.

Police said a member of the local search and rescue unit had to be revived with a portable defibrillator after his heart stopped at the scene of the crash, reported the Idaho State Journal.

The emergency responder spent three nights in hospital but was discharged on Wednesday.

Local sheriff Lorin Nielsen told the newspaper the difference between this accident and others he had dealt with was that “the damage was so horrific and there weren’t any skid marks.”

“All of us have seen death before, but when we have kids that are about the same age it really hits home a bit more than anything else does,” he said.

Eric and Lauren were driving a short way behind their mother and stepfather on Sunday – Father’s Day – after spending the weekend camping and riding dirt bikes together, according to the Journal.

The teenagers’ parents were checking on them in their rear view mirrors, but realised there was a problem when they lost sight of the siblings’ red Chevrolet truck.

The third victim of the crash, Mr Lanningham, was with a young female passenger who suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to hospital where she was said to be in a critical condition, but expected to survive.

The siblings’ father, also called Eric Neibaur, said the pair had “loved to torture each other” but had also “loved each other very much”.

French bus drivers have started wearing skirts to get around their bosses’ ban on shorts in recent stifling heat.

France sweltered in temperatures up to 38C this week as the country’s weather authority warned people to be “very vigilant” for danger posed by the weather.

Bus drivers in the western city of Nantes, who belong to the CFDT union, said their uniform was “not appropriate” for such high temperatures and that they “envy women at moments like this”.

“Given that skirts are an authorised outfit in the company, we are wearing skirts,” one driver told the local Presse Océan site.

Union official Gabriel Magner said: “A modern outlook would allow us to wear long shorts from time to time.

“This is a form of discrimination. Women drivers can wear skirts, but not the men.

“In this heatwave, the temperatures are reaching close to 50C behind our windscreens.

“And given we have no air conditioning on our buses, it’s unbearable.”

The bus company, Semitan, did roll out a new set of lighter summer trousers last year, it was reported, but did not appear to be moving toward allowing shorts.

Libs committed to reforming Ports board

Re PortsToronto’s “backroom deal…” (NOW, June 15-21). Opposition to the expansion of the Island airport and our government’s position of upholding the Tripartite Agreement and not allowing jets to land on the waterfront is unchanged. 

We also remain committed to reforming the Port authority’s board to make it more public and accountable. This can only be done within the legal framework defined by the Marine Act. The sale of surplus land is a delegated responsibility under the act. All federal ports have this authority.

Our goal as a government, and my commitment to residents of my riding, is to build a clean green waterfront for all, where the cultural, environmental, residential and commercial components of the lakefront are kept in balance.

P.S. Great story on Ron Nelson (NOW, June 8-14). He was our star DJ when I was station manager at CKLN.

Adam Vaughan, MP, Spadina-Fort York 

The real crisis in Venezuela

Letter-writer Ted Turner compares the current crisis in Venezuela (NOW, June 8-14) to the U.S.-backed coup in Chile in 1973. Turner should look deeper. 

The opposition in Venezuela took to the streets to protest corruption and repression, hunger, lack of medicine and health care and a collapsed economy with over 600 per cent inflation. 

The death toll stands at more than 70 people, mostly young students shot by “colectivos” made up of political enforcers and army forces. 

Nicolás Maduro was elected, but people want a real democracy, not an authoritarian. That is the real situation. If the USA wanted to intervene, they would have done it a long time ago. 

Roselby Rodriquez, Toronto

Getting results on the fight against racism

Re The Coming Storm In Education by Neil Price (NOW, May 25-31). Blaming racism (or colonialism or sexism) for our societal woes is misplaced. 

One can almost always find some racism in nearly every large activity of a society, such as work, education or health. Our resources are limited. We need to allocate them to optimize results. 

Arif Uddin, Toronto

Band-aid solutions to global warming

Re Salps Spell Trouble For Antarctica by Nicholas Engelmann (NOW, June 15-21). 

Antarctica could save the planet. Despite global warming, Antarctica is still the coldest place on Earth. However, the world has trouble agreeing on anything. 

Maybe in 20 years there will be international agreement on how to produce energy in an environmentally friendly way. 

Right now, all we have are band-aids.

Jeff Pancer, Toronto

Crosswords Xmas in June!

Thanks for printing the solution to last week’s crossword. Unfortunately, you forgot to print this week’s crossword (NOW, June 8-14). 

So will we be having two crosswords? That would be like Christmas in June!

Doug Hicton, Toronto

More density means less green in High Park

I support density in the city and am a tenant of one of the apartment towers that will be affected by the Minto and Great West Life developments (NOW, June 8-14). I recognize there are opponents to the development who are “millionaires fighting to keep what they have,” as Doug Howat suggests. But the majority of people at recent community consultations were tenants of the existing buildings: families, seniors and couples. 

Our tower houses hundreds of people from all generations in the community, and new, often young tenants move in all the time. All these towers combined make for a thriving community with sidewalks that are rarely “barren.”

Many of us have concerns about the irreparable damage to our green space. Over 100 mature trees will be knocked down. And Minto and GWL’s proposals all but ignore the Toronto Green Standard, with little in the way of sustainable building practices. 

That they are not offering any affordable housing further calls into question their lack of responsibility to urgent social and environmental issues that affect us all.

Rose Tavelli, Toronto

For abuse survivors, no Hollywood endings 

After learning about the horrendous abuse that A Better Man filmmaker Attiya Khan experienced (NOW, April 27-May 3), I found it absolutely remarkable that she was able to get her ex on camera and attempt any kind of dialogue. 

Yes, it would have been more compelling to hear all the gory details of the abuse he claims to have undergone as a child. Susan G. Cole found it “disappointing,” however, that he didn’t open up. 

Survivors and those who work with them know better than to expect Hollywood endings. 

Khan said she chose not to push because she felt it needed to come from him. She found healing from the attempt and made an incredibly important contribution to the conversation. 

An amazing woman who deserves enormous credit for the undertaking. 

Valerie Gow, Toronto

Letter for a friend

A friend, recently deceased, read your magazine every week. He would cut out articles and make photocopies to give away. An uninformed opinion upset him. “Ignore the media,” advised graffiti in a photograph he also cut out and placed on a wall in his home. Heinz survived the Third Reich. He was a retired documentary filmmaker, lived in the Annex and cycled to the age of 89. 

May I tell your readers about a website of stories, photos and quotes (leftwinglife.org)? Some may feel less alone. Your work added something positive to my friend’s life. 

Thank you. 

Elizabeth Green, Toronto