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Chinese driver gets more than 3 years in prison for running over 2-year-old

By the CNN Wire Staff
September 6, 2012 -- Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The girl was run over by two vehicles in October and left in the street
  • One of the drivers is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to prison
  • The case provoked outrage and soul-searching in China
  • Some microblog users say the sentence is too lenient

Beijing (CNN) -- A Chinese court has sentenced a man to three and a half years in prison for running over a 2-year-old girl and leaving her bleeding in the street, state media reported, a case that stirred debate in China about the level of compassion of its citizens.

The Nanhai District People's Court in the city of Foshan, Guangdong Province, convicted Hu Jun of manslaughter on Wednesday for the death of the girl, Wang Yue, who was hit and crushed by Hu's minibus and another vehicle in October, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The girl, nicknamed Yueyue, had wandered into the alley outside her father's hardware store in Foshan when she was run over. She subsequently died of her injuries after both vehicles drove away from the scene and more than a dozen people passed by without stopping to help.

Yueyue laid motionless in the street in a busy market area for 10 minutes until Chen Xianmei, a 58-year-old woman who collects trash for a living, passed by. She moved Yueyue to safety and called for help.

Psychologist explains 'bystander apathy'

A video of the events from a security camera was posted online, provoking sympathy, outrage and debate both inside and outside China. Many wondered aloud how so many people could pass by the critically injured child and do nothing.

The case prompted widespread soul-searching in China about the state of the nation's morals and civic-mindedness, as some people questioned whether years of strong economic growth had made people more interested in personal gain than the welfare of others.

Other people blamed a lack of laws and regulations or a failure of China's education system to inculcate respect for human life and dignity.

At the trial in Foshan, Hu confessed to running Yueyue over, Xinhua reported, but argued that he should be convicted of traffic offenses rather than manslaughter.

The court said it had given him a lenient sentence because he had given himself up to the police and paid some of Yueyue's medical fees, according to Xinhua.

But most Chinese people reacting to the court's decision on social media appeared to believe Hu had not been punished severely enough.

"Just 3 years and 6 months to compensate for a life?" the user ShuiQiangLeWoDeChenTuFeiYang posted on a microblog.

"He ended Xiao Yueyue's life before she even had time to start living," wrote another user, Feifeng1998, using a longer form of Yueyue's nickname.

The Xinhua report didn't mention what had happened to the driver of the other vehicle that ran Yueyue over.

CNN's Dayu Zhang, CY Xu and Wang Qixin in Beijing; and Jethro Mullen in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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