Page last updated at 06:21 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 07:21 UK

China frees waitress over killing

Chinese waitress Deng Yujiao, 21, rests at a hospital in Badong
Deng Yujiao has been diagnosed with a 'mental imbalance'

A Chinese waitress who killed a local official after he allegedly assaulted her has been set free by a court in Hubei province.

The court ruled that Deng Yujiao, who worked at an entertainment centre, was guilty of intentional injury.

But the 21-year-old, who said she acted in self defence, was released without punishment.

Her case has received widespread sympathy across China, and has been widely discussed on internet forums.

Police initially treated the case as murder, but this led to a public outcry. The charge was later changed to assault.

'Excessive defence'

After a two-hour trial, the court found that Deng had acted with "excessive defence" when she killed Deng Guida and injured another man, Huang Dezhi, with a knife after she refused to join them in a bath on 10 May, reports said.

The two men were township officials of Badong county.

A police statement said that the men pushed, shoved and insulted Ms Deng, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

According to lawyers quoted in Caijing business magazine, Deng Yujiao has been diagnosed with a "mental imbalance".

This was cited as one reason why the court released her without punishment.

Chinese websites have praised Deng for fighting injustice, and posted poems and songs in her support.

The strong public interest in the case prompted the local government in Badong to post a statement online promising a fair hearing.

At least 500 of Deng's supporters gathered outside the court to hear the verdict.

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