China Beijing airport explosion suspect tried

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File photo: Chinese security personnel investigate the scene of the blast at Beijing's international airport terminal 3 on 20 July 2013Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The device was a package of gunpowder taken from fireworks, reports said

China has begun the trial of a man in a wheelchair who detonated an explosive device at Beijing International Airport in July, state media report.

The man, Ji Zhongxing, said he had been paralysed after being beaten by security agents in China in 2005.

No one was killed in the blast, although Mr Ji suffered injuries and was taken to hospital.

If found guilty, he could face three to 10 years in jail for endangering public safety, state media report.

Photos in state media showed Mr Ji giving evidence from a hospital bed to the court.

According to the verified microblog feed of the Beijing court, Mr Ji said he did not deliberately detonate the home-made device and that he regretted his actions.

His lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, told the BBC: "[Mr Ji] went to the International Airport to petition [about his 2005 beating] and saw that nobody paid attention. Then he took out the explosives in order to attract the police, hoping that the police will take him away and ask about his petition."

Mr Ji set off the explosives "by accident" when he was putting down the explosives, Mr Liu added.

Mr Liu described the incident as "an explosion caused by negligence" on his verified microblog.

Prosecutors said that Mr Ji had endangered public safety and should be held criminally responsible for the explosion, news agency China News Service reported.

Public sympathy

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Mr Ji injured himself when he detonated the device

The 34-year-old from central Shandong province had been petitioning the authorities over his lower limb paralysis, which he said was caused by a beating from several security officers in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong Province, in 2005.

Mr Ji was also apparently dissatisfied with the way his complaints against the authorities had been dealt with.

His case drew widespread sympathy from the Chinese public, the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing reports.

While an extreme example, it exposed the immense frustrations many feel in China when trying to seek justice, our correspondent adds.

"[Mr Ji] used all normal ways to complain but this wasn't solved," Mr Liu said.

"I said in court that if his case was taken care of in any of the procedures he went through, there wouldn't be such a bomb case," he added.

There were reports of petitioners gathering outside the court, expressing support for Mr Ji and asking for their grievances to be considered.

There was also considerable sympathy for Mr Ji on China's microblogs.

Sina Weibo user nymfj wrote: "I hope he is pardoned", while user Let Go of Your Arrogance asked: "Has anyone investigated the case where Ji Zhongxing was beaten?"

Sina Weibo user Old Yip's Comments wrote: "Ji Zhongxing is a man pushed to the brink by Chinese society. From media reports, you can see that he did not want to harm anyone with his 'explosion', he only wanted to gain attention for his plight. I recommend he is given a reprieve. At the same time, the Guangdong government must give him compensation, and support him for the rest of his life."

However, some users argued that Mr Ji should be punished.

"These cases show that terrorism must be opposed everywhere... it must all be dealt with in accordance to the law," user Zhang Yiwu wrote.