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Yang JIA





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Revenge
Number of victims: 6
Date of murder: July 1, 2008
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: August 27, 1980
Victim profile: Six Shanghai police officers
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Shanghai, China
Status: Executed by lethal injection on November 26, 2008
photo gallery

Yang Jia (Chinese: 杨佳; pinyin: Yng Jiā; born 27 August 1980 26 November 2008) was a Chinese citizen executed for murdering six Shanghai police officers with a knife.

Yang received international media attention for the public sympathy accorded to him in China, where, according to exiled writer Ma Jian, Yang has become "a sort of national hero." Beijing lawyer and blogger Liu Xiaoyuan prominently defended Yang.


Yang, a jobless 28-year old Beijing resident described as a loner was reported to have been arrested and interrogated by the Shanghai police in October 2007 for riding an unlicensed bicycle. According to his later testimony in court, he was insulted during the interrogation and beaten after being brought back to the station, leaving bruises on his arms and back. He then sued the police for maltreatment, to no avail.


According to Chinese authorities and media, Yang Jia ignited eight petrol bombs at the front gate of the police headquarters in Zhabei, a Shanghai suburb, at about 9:40 am, 1 July 2008 the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. He then stabbed security guard Gu Jianming, who tried to stop Yang, with a knife. Subsequently, Yang charged into the building and randomly stabbed nine unarmed police officers, four in the lobby and duty room and five more while making his way up to the 21st floor, before police managed to subdue him.

Six policemen suffered stab-wounds in their lungs, livers and necks and bled to death. Besides the knife and the molotov cocktails Yang carried with him a hammer, a dust mask and tear-gas spray.

Trial and execution

Yang's trial was delayed on account of the 2008 Summer Olympics. On 27 August 2008, Yang was tried behind closed doors in a one-hour trial at the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court. Four days later, the official news agency Xinhua announced that he had been found guilty of premeditated murder and received a death sentence, as had previously been expected.

The death verdict against Yang was confirmed in an appeal trial, also conducted behind closed doors, on 20 October 2008. The appeals court concluded that Yang was of sound mind.

On 21 November 2008, the Supreme People's Court of China confirmed the death verdict. Yang was executed by lethal injection on 26 November 2008.

Media coverage and public opinion in China

Yang initially benefited from unusually sympathetic coverage in the state-controlled Chinese press. The Beijing News pointed out that Yang's appointed lawyer, Xie Youming, might have had a conflict of interest as he is also a legal adviser for the city district that oversees the police station at issue. Southern Weekend published a long, sympathetic front-page story, while other Chinese papers hinted that Yang was wronged and demanded a fair trial. In the week leading up to the trial, though, the Shanghai media fell silent on the case and Chinese authorities increased efforts to censor Chinese internet coverage on the subject.

While there was initial public anger at the killings, Western media noted that discourse on Chinese internet forums and blogs soon became largely sympathetic to Yang, with many expressing suspicions that Yang might not receive a fair trial and that the police might want to cover up wrongdoings of their own. The Daily Telegraph quoted one Chinese blogger as praising Yang's "strong sense of the law" and another comparing him to Wu Song, a hero in Chinese literature. A message left on Yang's MySpace account was reported to have read: "You have done what most people want to do, but do not have enough courage to do."

On 13 October 2008, a public protest in support of Yang occurred outside the Shanghai court in which Yang's appeal was heard. According to Agence France-Presse, about a dozen protesters wearing T-shirts with Yang's face showed up and were arrested by police.

After his execution, Internet tributes to Yang continued to be posted in China. Agence France-Presse reported that very few Internet users expressed the opinion that Yang deserved his fate, reproducing the following contribution by a Chinese forum user as typical of many: "When you hold a knife up to the police, it's doomed to end this way. But Chinese history will remember Yang Jia's name forever.

U.S. 2008 Human Rights report

The U.S. Department of State's 2008 Human Rights report mentioned Yang Jia:

"On 26 November, Yang Jia, who was accused of killing six Shanghai police officers on 1 July, was executed following a decision by the Shanghai High Court to uphold his conviction. Yang's case included serious irregularities at trial, and the appellate court deprived him an opportunity to be examined for mental illness despite a request by Yang's new attorney to allow it".


China executes Shanghai police killer: officials


November 25, 2008

SHANGHAI (AFP) Chinese authorities announced they had executed an unemployed man on Wednesday who became an unlikely cult hero after murdering six policemen in what he said was revenge for a wrongful arrest.

Yang Jia, 28, was executed in Shanghai after China's Supreme People's Court approved the sentence, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

He was convicted in September of going on a stabbing frenzy in a Shanghai police station on July 1 in revenge for apparently being wrongfully detained on suspicion of stealing a bicycle.

He lost an appeal against the sentence last month after judicial proceedings that his supporters said were flawed, complaints that were repeated on Wednesday.

"Yang Jia is dead, there are a lot of holes in the legal process and many unanswered questions," Liu Xiaoyuan, a Beijing lawyer who closely followed the case, told AFP.

"I just spoke to his father, he's very sad and doesn't want to talk."

The case became a lightning rod for controversy because it raised questions about police harassment, with some regarding Yang as a victim who stood up to abuse commonly suffered by marginalised people in Chinese society.

His mother, Wang Jingmei, who raised Yang as a single parent, was also detained and placed in a mental home following the murders, adding to the litany of complaints and alleged injustices surrounding the case.

One other particular concern was the various courts' refusal to look further into assertions by Yang's lawyers that he was mentally unstable.

Wang told Xinhua on Tuesday night she received a copy of the supreme court's judgement dated November 21.

"They said he would be executed within seven days and that I could request a final meeting with him," she was quoted as saying.

Officials had brought her to Shanghai to see her son on Monday morning, a day after releasing her from the Beijing mental institution where she had been held since the attack, Xinhua reported.

She had no idea Monday would be the last time she would see her son, the report said.

Little is known about Yang, a Beijing native described as a lonely man who loved surfing the Internet and reading, particularly art books.

He appeared to snap after police rejected his repeated demands for 10,000 yuan (1,460 dollars) in compensation for psychological damage he told the court he suffered after police beat him during his overnight detention in October 2007.

Police denied any beating took place.

Yang began his attack on the police station where he was held by igniting petrol bombs at the gates, before forcing his way in.

He stabbed nine police officers and a security guard, and made it to the 21st floor of the district police headquarters before he was overpowered and arrested, according to state media reports.

In a rare protest outside the Shanghai's Higher People's Court at the start of last month's appeal, about a dozen protesters donned T-shirts featuring Yang's face before they were quickly taken away by police.

Their T-shirts had a quote from Yang reading: "If you don't give me a reason, then I will teach you a lesson."

After the execution was reported, Internet users posted tributes, calling him a hero.

"When you hold a knife up to the police, it's doomed to end this way. But Chinese history will remember Yang Jia's name forever," read one tribute that reflected many Internet postings.

Very few said Yang deserved his fate, although some did.

"Don't forget Yang Jia is a murderer," one Internet poster wrote.


Man who killed 6 city cops gets death penalty

By Angela Xu - Shanghai Daily

September 2, 2008

A 28-year-old Beijing native who went on a deadly stabbing spree in a Shanghai police station in July was sentenced to death yesterday by a local court.

The defendant, Yang Jia, has 10 days to appeal the ruling by the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People,s Court. If the verdict stands, the death penalty must be ratified by the Supreme People,s Court.

Yang, wearing a blue T-shirt and dark blue trousers, was escorted into the courtroom in handcuffs at the start of yesterday,s session, which was attended by more than 40 people. The handcuffs were removed, and Yang was allowed to sit before his sentence was announced.

The accused remained expressionless during the hour-long session and seemed unmoved even after hearing he would be executed. During the proceeding, the court recounted a tale of revenge that left six officers dead and four injured at the Zhabei District Public Security Bureau.

Around 9:40am on July 1, Yang carried gasoline bottles, a knife, a pair of gloves, tear-gas spray and a gas mask into the police station. He set the gasoline ablaze and stabbed security guard Gu Jianming when he tried to stop him. Yang then attacked four unarmed police officers in the lobby and in a duty room on the first floor, according to police testimony.

He then rushed up the stairs and stabbed five other officers on the 9th, 10th, 11th and 21st floors. Six police officers suffered injuries to their lungs, livers and necks and died from massive hemorrhaging.

The court said revenge seemed to be the motive behind Yang,s killing frenzy. Yang earlier said he was beaten by police. But Shanghai police denied the accusation, and the court said it could find no evidence to support the claim.

The chain of events began when Yang was questioned by a patrol officer in Zhabei District on October 15, 2007 as he was riding an unlicensed bicycle in an area where several thefts had occurred.

When asked to show his ID card and provide information about the bike, Yang refused to cooperate. He was taken to the police station and released only after the officers were able to confirm he had rented the bike.

Complaining of "wrongful treatment," Yang sought 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) in compensation from the police for causing him "mental anguish." When his demands were not met, he decided to take revenge, prosecutors told the court.

Yang was defended by Xie Youming and Xie Jin of Shanghai Mingjiang Law Firm.

They said Yang wanted to take revenge on officer Wu Yuhua, who was in charge of dealing with his complaint. When Yang was stopped by other police officers, he stabbed them with a knife. The lawyers argued that Yang hadn,t intended to kill the officers, so he should be charged with assault instead of murder. Wu was only slightly injured in the attack.

The lawyers also said Yang may have psychological problems and appealed for another appraisal of his mental condition.

As psychology experts had already pronounced Yang mentally sound, the court rejected that request.


Chinese cop-killer becomes internet hero

A Chinese man accused of murdering six policemen has attracted increasing levels of approval and adulation from internet users as his trial begins in Shanghai.

By Malcolm Moore -

August 26, 2008

Yang Jia, a 28-year-old unemployed man from Beijing, appeared in court in Shanghai charged with an alleged attack against the police on July 1, the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

Mr Yang is said to have thrown molotov cocktails into a police station in Zhabei, a northern suburb of the city, before entering the building and attacking a group of unarmed officers with a knife. He was arrested at the scene.

However, instead of condemnation, he has received widespread approval from Chinese internet users, or netizens, for his apparent act of defiance.

He has become a symbol for the growing number of people who are attacking Chinese police in protest at the brutality of the state.

Mr Yang has even been compared to Wu Song, one of the greatest heroes in Chinese literature, who killed a tiger with his bare hands.

One message left on his MySpace page said: "You have done what most people want to do, but do not have enough courage to do".

The prosecution said Mr Yang had acted out of "revenge" after he was caught by police riding an unlicensed bicycle last October and interrogated. He later sued the Shanghai police for 10,000 yuan (803) for psychological damage, but his claim was rejected.

Mr Yang is rumoured to have been badly beaten and maimed by police.

One blogger, Zi Bingyue, wrote: "Yang Jia is not bad. He has no previous criminal record. On the contrary, he has a strong sense of the law. He gave seats to older people on the bus and carried luggage for weak travellers."

His father, Yang Fu, said his son must "have been greatly wronged" and added that he hoped Mr Yang's almost inevitable death sentence would help spur the Chinese legal system to change in the future.

Another blogger, Qing Feng, wrote that Mr Yang had been ground down by the reality of being unemployed in China. "He would have self-destructed one way or another since he has lost hope. He has no job, no degree, no income, no background, no relationship or normal family," he said.

Since Mr Yang's arrest, his lawyers have been uncontactable. An attempt by the Telegraph to trace them to a second-floor office in north Shanghai was met with a simple note saying that the office would be closed for the foreseeable future.

In addition, blogs mentioning Mr Yang have been deleted and bloggers have been told by websites that sensitive articles will be blocked.



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