Chinese man jailed for making 'gun' toilet handles will face retrial

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A man in northeast China who last year was sentenced to 13 years in prison for manufacturing toilet handles that looked like gun parts is facing retrial after a provincial court ruled that the original evidence was insufficient.

The Anhui Provincial High People's Court ruled in a second-instance hearing on March 13 that the "facts were unclear and evidence insufficient" in the original judgment last September, when Jiang Zhiping was convicted of illegally manufacturing, trading and storing guns, Jiang's relatives told news outlet Thepaper.cn on Tuesday.

As a result, the High Court has sent the case back to Anhui's Fuyang Intermediate People's Court for retrial.

Jiang, a designer of plastic household items from Jiangxi province, was responsible for the design and production of a high-pressure toilet flushing handle that was identified as a gun part by police who were investigating a network of gun sellers across China.

Police traced the supply network through an air gun that was discovered in a village near Fuyang in April 2016 and confiscated 3,870 toilet handles from a warehouse owned by Jiang.

Jiang's sister, Jiang Xiaoqin, told Thepaper.cn that the toilet handle was the first patented item he had designed, and that patent certificates were presented by his defence lawyer in the first trial.

Prosecutors said Jiang created the design to mimic an air gun grip after researching it online, and said that the handle was identical in shape and function to a sample gun shown in court.

However, Jiang's defence lawyer for his retrial, Yang Weiping, told Thepaper.cn that the method used to identify it as a gun was faulty, and not in line with Ministry of Public Security guidelines.

Jiang requested that his toilet handle be re-identified in the appeal.

Jiang's family have received a statement from Fuyang police saying that they did not have Ministry of Public Security guidelines on gun appraisal between July 2016 and April 2017.

A date for the retrial has yet to be set.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post