When Li Shiming was stabbed to death, few of his fellow villagers mourned the local Communist Party official. Instead, villagers in Xiashuixi, China, made Li's teenage killer, who was paid $146 to do the deed, a local hero. More than 20,000 people from the coal-mining area petitioned a court for a lenient sentence for Zhang Xuping, the AP reports. "I didn't feel surprised at all when I heard Li Shiming was killed, because people wanted to kill him a long time ago," says a villager whose husband was harassed for years by Li. "I wanted to kill Li myself, but I was too weak."
Zhang's trial had to be postponed because the courthouse was mobbed by thousands of would-be spectators; a death sentence was quietly handed down this week. Bloggers blamed the murder on government failure to blow the whistle on officials who run their districts like personal fiefdoms. "If the authorities did not indulge Li Shiming's evil deeds, if even one of his evil deeds was punished by law, he would have avoided death under Zhang Xuping's knife," one wrote.