'House Sister' denies fake ID card accusations
Updated: 2013-09-25 07:44
By Ma Lie and Lu Hongyan in Jingbian, Shaanxi (China Daily)
A woman accused of owning multiple forged ID cards denied the charges in a Shaanxi province court on Tuesday.
Gong Aiai, 49, who Chinese netizens have dubbed "House Sister", was charged in the People's Court of Jingbian County with forging and trading official documents.
The prosecution alleges that Gong - the former deputy head of the Shenmu County Rural Commercial Bank in Yulin - spent 300,000 yuan ($49,000) to buy household registration IDs for herself and her daughter in 2005 in order to buy houses in Beijing.
Gong, a native of Shenmu county, argued that she was unaware that it is illegal to have multiple hukou, a household registration record unique to each Chinese citizen. She said she got her Beijing ID card from a preferential policy provided by a real estate developer to encourage people to buy houses in Beijing, and that police in Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces issued her other ID cards.
Lian Gaobo, Gong's lawyer with Beijing Kangda (Xi'an) Law Firm, said that Gong's ID cards were all genuine and issued by public security agencies. "Gong never used the ID cards for illegal business, so she did not commit the crime," the lawyer said at the trial.
In her final statement, Gong said she did not know she had committed a crime and she apologized for using different ID cards.
Prosecutors suggested the court give Gong a prison sentence of two and a half to three years. The verdict will be announced at a later date.
Five other suspects, including police officers in Beijing, Shaanxi and Shanxi involved in Gong's case, will be tried later.
Gong's case has attracted a lot of public attention. Many questioned why Gong's houses were not mentioned at the trial.
The case came to light in an online post in January that said she owned more than 20 houses worth over 1 billion yuan ($163 million) in Beijing and held another ID card with the name of Gong Xianxia.
Gong explained that her family was rich, owning companies such as coal mines, and some of the houses were bought by other family members.
She told the media that she had two ID cards, under the names of Gong Aiai and Gong Xianxia, because she wanted to keep the houses for her and her two children from her former husband.
Shenmu county police said the "Gong Xianxia" ID card was fake and had been canceled.
However, on Jan 21, Gong was reported to have another two ID cards, one for Shenmu county and one in Beijing. Those ID cards had the name Gong Aiai with the same birth date but different birth years.
Beijing police said on Jan 24 that the Beijing ID card was illegal and canceled it.
The Ministry of Public Security announced on Jan 30 the arrest of seven suspects, including four police officers who were suspected of helping Gong get the false ID cards.
On Jan 31, Beijing police said that Gong was found to own 41 houses with a total floor area of 9,666.9 square meters and an Audi automobile in Beijing.
Police said they seized 10 of the 41 houses and the car Gong bought with the fake Beijing ID card.
Experts said the case shows that the government needs to address loopholes in the household registration system.
"Some citizens may take advantage of loopholes and have two hukou IDs, two ID cards, or even have the same ID number as another person," said Chen Bo, associate researcher with the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences.
Chen said strengthened police supervision and more severe punishments are required.
A Beijing police officer named Wang said police themselves cannot possibly address all the loopholes.
"Some Beijing university students went back to their hometowns after graduation and requested a local ID card without canceling the one they requested in Beijing when they first came to the capital. Thus, they have two valid ID cards legally," Wang said.
She added that residents only need to report to local police stations after they lose their ID cards, fill out an application, present their hukou, and they will be issued new cards.
"There's no way for police to verify if they really lost their ID cards or not," said Wang, adding that people can acquire multiple valid ID cards this way.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Xinhua and Hou Liqiang contributed to this story.
(China Daily USA 09/25/2013 page3)