A high court in China has ordered a retrial on the life sentence given to a man by a lower court for illegal possession and smuggling of 14 imitation guns. Da Minglei, 34, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Intermediate People’s Court of Quanzhou in December 2015 for illegally possessing and smuggling 14 imitation guns from a Taiwan seller in 2013 and 2014, official media here reported.
Public security officers in Quanzhou later found the imitation guns obtained by Da, which are powered by compressed air, met China’s strict definition of an illegal firearm. Zhong Shanying and Chen Rong, who helped deliver the guns to Da, were sentenced to eight and seven years in prison respectively, and given fines of 50,000 yuan (USD 7,366) and 20,000 yuan, said the report. Da’s lawyer argued his client “collected the imitation guns for entertainment and caused no harm to society.”
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The three appealed their convictions and the Fujian High People’s Court ruled against the first verdict on Tuesday, saying there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction, state-run Global Times reported today.
The retrial comes amid a broader controversy about China’s laws on imitation guns. In October, the Fujian High People’s Court also announced it would rehear the case of Liu Dawei, a 20-year-old who was sentenced to life imprisonment after he bought 24 imitation guns from a Taiwan vendor.
The current legal definition of firearms, which has been widely adopted in courts across China, comes from a 2010 Ministry of Public Security internal document. It stipulates that guns that are able to fire bullets with a kinetic force of over 1.8 joules per square centimetres – less than it takes to pierce human skin – will be considered illegal firearms.