Liao Dan, an unemployed 41-year-old man, was accused of defrauding Beijing Hospital of 172,000 yuan in medical expenses in order to save his seriously ill wife. However, with the help of public donations, he repaid the money at Dongcheng District People’s Court on July 17, 2012, with the hope of receiving a more lenient sentence.
Liao was arrested on Feb. 21 and released on bail on Mar. 8 before standing trial on July 11, accused of duplicating the hospital’s seal and using it to make fake receipts for his wife’s blood dialysis treatments. Liao’s wife, Du Jinling, suffers from uremia. At trial Liao admitted the offences, which spanned the time period from November 2007 to September 2011. The total cost of the treatments was about 172,000 yuan (US$ 27,300). The prosecutor suggested that Liao be sentenced to between 3 and 10 years in prison and the judge told Liao that he could return home to take care of his wife, but he must promise to return to court when summoned.
Explaining his actions, Liao said that both he and his wife are unemployed with a 12-year-old son, and that his wife, who is from Hebei Province, does not have permanent residency in Beijing, which means that she does not qualify for medical insurance in the capital. Liao was compelled to make the fake official hospital seal due to the fact that the couple couldn’t afford the medical fees to continue his wife’s dialysis treatments, which came to more than 5,000 yuan a month.
Liao’s trial and predicament was soon picked up and exposed by Chinese media and has become a hot topic for discussion. Since the start of the trial, more than 1.58 million people on the Sina micro-blogging website have joined the discussion, with many criticizing the country’s current medical system. Many offered donations to help Liao and his wife and as of July 17, donations had exceeded 400,000 yuan. Among the donors was Chen Lihao, a member of Guangdong Province’s Zhuhai Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Chen offered Liao 170,000 yuan.
Liao has formally authorized the China Foundation for Social Assistance to oversee the fund and ensure that all funds are used only for the specified purpose. Liao’s first use of the donated funds was to pay his outstanding debt to the hospital. Chen confirmed to the Beijing Morning Post that Liao had paid his medical fees in their entirety, to the tune of all 172,000 yuan. He made the payment to the District People’s Court on the morning of July 17. Liao said the remaining donations will be used for his family’s living expenses.
Commenting on the fortunate turn of events for him and his family, Liao said that he was lucky that so many kind people had taken note of his family’s plight and decided to help. He vowed to continue caring for his wife if he was granted leniency by the court.
Many netizens have argued that the court should reduce Liao’s sentence and give him support and donations. However, Yi Shenghua, a lawyer from the Yingke Law Firm who has followed the case closely, does not think that Liao will be given probation said public opinion should not be allowed to sway the court.
(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong July 19, 2012)