China jails man for Cultural Revolution murder

Red Army soldiers read from Chairman Mao's Little Red Book (c 1970)
Image caption The Cultural Revolution radicalised young Chinese into acts of violence against "elites"

A court in China has jailed an elderly man for a murder committed during the Cultural Revolution after a trial which sparked fierce debate.

Qiu Riren, who is thought to be in his 80s, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, officials said.

The Cultural Revolution, launched by Mao Zedong in 1966, was an era of violence against intellectuals and other alleged bourgeois elements.

Some questioned why Qui was tried when so few officials were held to account.

The court in the eastern province of Zhejiang found Qiu guilty of killing a doctor he believed was a spy in 1967.

Prosecutors said that Qiu strangled the doctor with a rope.

Charges were filed against him in the 1980s and he was arrested last year, Global Times reported.

Mao's 10-year Cultural Revolution was intended to produce massive social, economic and political upheaval to overthrow the old order.

Ordinary citizens - particularly the young - were encouraged to challenge the privileged, resulting in the persecution of hundreds of thousands of people who were considered intellectuals or otherwise enemies of the state.

What went on during the Cultural Revolution remains highly sensitive in China and public discussion of it is limited, correspondents say.

Qiu's trial sparked vigorous public debate. Some micro-bloggers asked why one individual was being made into a scapegoat for the party's wrongs.

Others argued it was important to hold the guilty to account, no matter how much time had elapsed.

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