Court orders retrial in intl purchasing case

Updated: 2013-05-07 16:01

By Mao Jing (

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On Monday, a higher court in Beijing overturned the original ruling over a former flight attendant who bought goods overseas to sell in China and handed down an 11-year sentence, and ordered a retrial of the case, Beijing News reported.

Beijing Municipal Higher People’s Court pointed out that the original judgment was based on insufficient evidence and unclear facts. The retrial will happen within three months.

Li Xiaohang was convicted of importing cosmetics from South Korea 29 times and her boyfriend Shi Haidong 17 times, without a customs declaration, from August 2008 to August 2011, evading total import duties of 1.13 million yuan (later amended to 1.09 million yuan).

The controversial case was hotly debated over the amount and value of the purchased cosmetics and fairness of the sentence.

Zhang Yan, the defense lawyer, said in the second trial that Li had no intention of smuggling and did not knowingly evade taxes.

Li’s father also said that Li does not understand the meaning of smuggling and the information the court gathered about the value and amount of cosmetics Li purchased was incorrect in the first trial.

“The original verdict is abnormal. People sentenced to 10 years or more is considered a felony, which is not appropriate for Li,” said Zhang Qihuai, executive vice president of Beijing Aviation Law Association.

International purchasing agent has become a very controversial issue in recent years. Suspects in other cases similar to Li’s were given much shorter jail terms.

On Feb 25, two Taobao shop owners in Shanghai were fined and sentenced to jail for one year, suspended for 18 months. They bought duty-free goods in South Korea and brought them to China to sell online in 2012, avoiding tens of thousands of yuan in import taxes.

In 2011, a court in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, sentenced online shop owner Yu Juan to three years in prison, suspended for three years, for smuggling two tons of Amway products.