China toll dodger Shi Jianfeng 'took blame for brother'

Image caption,
Many in China complain that road tolls are too high for ordinary people

The younger brother of a Chinese man sentenced to life in prison for dodging road tolls has turned himself into police, state media reports.

Shi Junfeng said he - and not his elder brother - had put military number plates on the vehicles to evade tolls of 3.7m yuan (£350,000;$560,000).

The case caused an outcry in China, with many questioning the harsh sentence given to Shi Jianfeng.

The court in Henan province had already ordered a retrial.

Shi Jianfeng had been found guilty last week of evading the fees over a nine-month period while delivering sand and gravel in two trucks. The court ruled he had used military number plates, meaning the vehicles could avoid paying road tolls.

He was sentenced to life in prison, a fine of 2m yuan and the loss of his political rights. He also had his illegal earnings confiscated.


But last Friday, the court in Pingdingshan ordered a retrial of the case, ruling that other people may have been involved.

Court official Liu Penghua said the convicted man had claimed he was "manipulated by a relative," the Xinhua news agency reported.

On Saturday night, Shi Junfeng turned himself in to police in Yuzhou City, saying his brother, a farmer, had taken the blame for him.

It appears he had not thought his older brother would be sentenced so severely, telling police he had offered bribes to officials and had been assured he would be released quickly.

Senior police officer Wang Xucan told Xinhua that Shi Junfeng was now being questioned and would soon be transferred to Pingdingshan.

The case had generated a furious reaction online in China.

Many argued that far more lenient sentences are usually given for more serious crimes. There were also complaints that road tolls, required on most major highways, are too high for ordinary people to be able to afford.