A man in central China was sentenced to 18 months in prison after exacting revenge on a former teacher who allegedly beat him in class.
Chang Renyao, 33, was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a vague crime often invoked to shut activists, according to Sixth Tone.
In his trial, Chang claimed that his middle school teacher, surnamed Zhang, punished him violently for sleeping in class some 20 years ago.
In June 2018, the two crossed paths along a road in Luoyang, Henan province, which ended in a violent confrontation caught on video.
“Do you remember me?” Chang asked Zhang before launching a series of vicious slaps.
Throughout the attack, Zhang can be heard saying “I’m sorry.”
Chang was arrested on December 20, days after the video went viral online.
According to the Luanchuan County People’s Court, Chang, at the time of the incident, asked his companion, identified as Pan, to film the scene.
Chang’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea on June 12, arguing that his client’s actions were only retaliatory and that he should receive administrative instead of criminal punishment.
However, because the video had gone viral, the court decided to proceed with criminal charges, as “creating disturbances” that “disrupt social order” falls in Article 293 of China’s criminal law.
Chang could have been sentenced up to five years, but because he is a first-time offender, the court decided to go easy on him.
“The defendant intercepted, insulted and beat Zhang along a busy road and recorded a video for dissemination,” the court said in a statement. “This attracted several onlookers and raised public concerns. It had a severe impact on Zhang and his family, as well as violating moral standards and public order. The circumstances are wicked: His behavior constitutes a crime. Given that Chang turned himself in and is a first-time offender, the punishment is lenient.”
Chang’s family members, however, are planning to appeal the decision, according to The Paper. They are also eyeing a countersuit against Zhang for his past actions.
The case has drawn mixed reactions on Chinese social media, but most are taking Chang’s side. Weibo users commented:
“The presiding judge must have never been beaten by a teacher as a child.”
“The teacher must be thinking, ‘I beat you 20 years ago and I still beat you now.'”
“A few slaps in the face is far from enough to heal the trauma that teacher had left him for 20 years.”
“I think the teacher should be the one sentenced here and he should apologize for the all trauma he had caused him as a child.”
“I can guarantee that there are many other students abused by this teacher. If you did something wrong, be brave enough to review your past.”