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Chinese man charged with raping student in Australia

Updated: 2013-11-13 02:01
By XU JINGXI in Guangzhou ( China Daily)

A 43-year-old Chinese man, reportedly the head of a Chinese government urban planning institute, has been charged with raping a university student tour guide in Australia and his application to return to China has been denied by the police.

According to The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Song Jingsong has been reporting daily to police in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, since his arrest and extradition from New South Wales three months ago on charges that include two counts of digital rape.

Southern Metropolitan Daily reported in Guangzhou on Tuesday that Song is the deputy head of the Guangdong Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute, a public institution subordinate to the provincial department of housing and urban-rural development.

According to the newspaper, an anonymous official from the institute "confirmed" Song's identity. The official reportedly added that Song went to Australia in a private capacity in August and that the institute did not arrange the trip and has since lost contact with him.

The institute's website lists a Song Jingsong as the contact person for the institute's urban development center, but nobody answered a phone call China Daily made to the institute on Tuesday.

Steve Butcher, who wrote the article in The Age, told China Daily that Song is charged with four offences — two of rape and two of indecent assault, all allegedly committed on Aug 17 and 18.

Song was granted bail in August but had to surrender his passport and was ordered to remain in Australia.

He appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday to apply to request that the bail conditions were changed to allow him to return to China on condition he report daily in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, and return once a month to Victoria.

Magistrate Donna Bakos heard Song was prepared to put up a $500,000 cash deposit and two friends offered a further $150,000 in sureties to ensure he obeyed his bail conditions.

Detective Senior Constable Ross Waring opposed Song's application on the grounds that China's policy is not to extradite its nationals so "there is no way for us to bring him back" if he remained in China, according to The Age.

Huang Feng, director of the research center of international criminal law at Beijing Normal University's College for Criminal Law Science, said Waring was correct.

"However, if Song is convicted of the crimes, he will still be prosecuted for his criminal liability in China according to the country's law," Huang said.

The Consulate General of China in Melbourne told China Daily on Tuesday that it has seen Southern Metropolitan Daily's article but that it is "difficult to judge" if Song is the official from the institute in Guangzhou.

"A diplomat is handling Song's case, but whether he is able to vary his bail is up to the judicial authority in Australia," an anonymous official from the consulate's department of affairs concerning Chinese living abroad and consular protection said by phone.

Li Wenfang contributed to this story.

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