ANOTHER ONE

A Didi driver in China who murdered a female passenger last year was sentenced to death

You are in safe hands now.
You are in safe hands now.
Image: Reuters/Jason Lee
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Last year, two female passengers were murdered by drivers working for Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing’s car-pooling service. Today (Feb. 1), a Chinese court sentenced one of those killers to death.

A local court in the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province delivered the sentence (link in Chinese) for Zhong Yuan, a 28-year-old man who pleaded guilty to multiple charges including murder, rape, and robbery in early January. He is the second Didi driver to be sentenced to death in a space of three months.

Zhong was arrested and indicted in late August, shortly after police found a woman’s body in a mountainous area. The 20-year-old female passenger, surnamed Zhao, was using Didi’s Hitch service—which has since been suspended—to travel to meet a friend. During the journey, she sent a message to a friend with the word “help” before her mobile was switched off. Police found the driver after obtaining information from Didi, which said Zhong forged his driving license, and passed a facial recognition check required by the company before allowing drivers to pick up passengers.

Didi said it had no comment on the case.

The murders have drawn huge outcry in China, exacerbated by the company’s failure to address public concerns after a series of tragedies, as well as the marketing methods Didi had used to promote Hitch, for example by allowing users to comment on passengers’ appearances.

Another Didi driver was sentenced to death in December, after he was found guilty of robbing and murdering a female passenger in Shenzhen in late 2016. Last year in May, a Didi driver suspected of murdering a 21-year-old female flight attendant in Zhengzhou died after he jumped into a river.