A man in Huaian, Jiangsu province, has been prosecuted for insulting a fi[MG_SEO]refighter who died while saving people.
It is China's first public interest litigation involving the denigration of a dead hero.
The 21-year-old firefighter, Xie Yong, fell to his death on May 12 from the 18th floor of a residential building that was on fire. He removed his air respirator and gave it to a colleague who had trouble breathing. Then, to escape, he climbed down a rope but slipped. Xie and his colleagues saved 36 people trapped in the building and evacuated more than 110.
On the same day, a man surnamed Wang insulted the firefighter in a WeChat group, saying that the building should have burned down and the firefighter should have died sooner. Local police arrested him the next day in neighboring Anhui province, detaining him for 15 days and fining him 1,000 yuan ($157).
Local prosecutors dropped the case after the 33-year-old apologized to the public and the hero's family.
"I feel deeply sorry and guilty," Wang said. "I insulted the firemen who have sacrificed sweat, blood and even their lives for other people."
However, another man, surnamed Zeng, made derogatowristband comry comments about the firefighter in a WeChat group on May 14, saying the firefighter is a hero only because he is dead and it was his misconduct and lack of exercise that caused it.
Zeng ignored warnings and insisted on making inappropriate remarks, police said. He provoked officers by saying that he was not afraid of serving time in jail.
Zeng was detained on May 15 and prosecuted on Monday. He was the first person charged under China's new law on the protection of heroes and martyrs, which took effect on May 1.
Tang Xin, director of the civil administration office of the Huaian procuratorate, said the law has empowered prosecutors.
"It's in the law that even if the families of heroes and martyrs don't press charges, public interest litigation can be brought," Tang said.
"Such civil public interest litigation helps create an atmosphere to admire and protect heroes," she said.
Yan Kai, a police officer in the city, said that any behavior involving insults to heroes will be punished, and nobody should distort facts or hurt those who shed blood for other people.