Thursday, March 19, 2009

Malfunctioning ATM send a young man to jail

A man in Guangzhou has been caught by the police and jailed for life for taking money from a malfunctioning ATM. The machine was actually only deducting 1 yuan from his account for ever 1,000 yuan withdrawn, and over a period of time he withdrew 175,000 yuan. He has appealed against the sentence. This case provoked hot discussion among the media.

Let's take a look at some opinions in the press.

A writer for the Procuratorial Daily thinks that ATMs should be the banks responsibility. The customer, Xu Ting should not be sentenced to life in prison due to a malfunctioning machine. If there is no money in his account, then Xu should not be able to withdraw any funds. His behavior should only be defined as acquiring profits improperly and without a lawful basis. Xu Ting's actions should come under the lesser charge of embezzlement, a civil liability, but not a criminal liability. A sentence for life is too harsh.

New Express carried a view believing that the sentence for life is totally appropriate. Xu Ting has committed larceny because he stole money several times after discovering the faulty ATM and he never reported it to the bank or the police.

At the first transaction his behavior can only be described as a civil misdemeanor. But after he told his friend to make several transactions for the sole purpose of stealing money and then running away; his behavior became deliberate and criminal. As an ATM is regarded as a branch of any bank, a financial institute. Stealing money from such a financial institute is regarded as committing a crime punishable by the law.

A comment in the Guangzhou Daily agreed with lawyers and some netizens that the sentence is overly harsh. But on the other hand, it emphasizes that the judge should not be the target of blame over the result. Different opinions among judges also prove that the case is receiving mixed reviews and that an agreement can hardly be reached under the current law. It is now hardly foreseeable how the case will be decided in the second trial.

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