China Promises Cheaper Tolls After Life Sentence Outrage
VOA Breaking News (Voice of America)
January 19, 2011 at 11:10 am
Chinese officials are promising to address the problem of excessive highway tolls after a national outcry was sparked by the life sentence handed to an alleged toll-dodger.
Weng Mengyong, the deputy minister of transport, said on Tuesday the ministry is working with other agencies to establish “a stable and affordable” charging system for the nation's highways. He said in future there will be a dual highway system, with relatively low tolls on trunk lines and so-called “fast tracks,” while regular expressways will be toll-free.
The Chinese Internet exploded with outrage when a court in Henan province handed a life sentence to a farmer who was said to have placed military tags on two trucks in order to avoid paying tolls. The public was angered not only at the harsh sentence, but by reports that the farmer would have been subject to tolls totaling more than $500,000.
The conviction has since been overturned and the judges in the case are under investigation. Some reports say they have been fired or suspended. Following the sentencing, Shi's brother Shi Junfeng came forward to say that he was the one who evaded the tolls.
The official Xinhua news agency says a new trial for the farmer, Shi Jianfeng, will be held on Friday.
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