Arson trial adjourned after lawyer claims court has no jurisdiction

A court adjourned an arson trial Thursday after the defendant's lawyer walked out of the courtroom as his objection to jurisdiction was denied by the judge.
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The brother of a woman killed in the fire takes part in an interview outside the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court on December 21.

A court adjourned an arson trial Thursday after the defendant’s lawyer walked out of the courtroom when his objection to jurisdiction was denied by the judge.

Mo Huanjing, a family nanny, stood trial at Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court for allegedly stealing from her employer and setting fire to their house, killing a young mother and her three children aged six to 11, the court heard.

The defendant's lawyer insisted the case be heard somewhere other than Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, where the incident occurred. The judge denied his request.

The lawyer, Dang Linshan, then ignored the court's order and left the courtroom, 26 minutes after the trial began.

The case was adjourned and will resume at a later date.

The court said Mo could find another lawyer to represent her or it would appoint one for her.

Dang said on his Weibo account that he withdrew from the trial as a form of protest. He claimed the trial is now "against the law".

He has filed an application with the Supreme People's Court, asking that the case be tried at another place and is waiting for the reply. 

Dang has accused the Hangzhou court of "breaching the law" in opening the case today, as a response from the Supreme People's Court has yet to arrive.

Mo, 34, is accused of setting fire to the apartment on the 18th floor of Sapphire Mansion, a luxury apartment compound in Hangzhou, at 5am on June 22. The father, Lin Shengbin, was on a business trip at the time.

Police said the mother and her three children were found unconscious in the apartment after firefighters broke in. Despite the efforts of emergency services to revive them, they later died of smoke inhalation.

Mo was accused of having a serious gambling problem, and police alleged she stole items from the family and pawned them off to feed her gambling addiction. She also borrowed 100,000 yuan (US$15,204) from them, claiming she needed to buy a house in her hometown. 

After the family discovered the theft, they fired the nanny but chose not to call police. A few days later, the fire was set.

Lin said he wouldn’t file a civil lawsuit against Mo to seek compensation so that Mo would receive the harshest punishment possible and the trail would be expedited.

Dang posted a hand-written letter from Mo on his Weibo account today, in which Mo said she is "willing to accept the death penalty if the sentence could make everything start over again."


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