Former Didi driver sentenced to death for murdering passenger in Shenzhen

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A court in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has sentenced a former Didi driver to death. Pan Tujin was found guilty of robbing and murdering a passenger in the city on the night of May 2, 2016. His female victim, identified only by the surname of Zhong, was reportedly a teacher.

According to the official court notice, in April 2016 Pan set out to find victims to rob via Didi’s ride-hailing services. He bought “tools“ including stickers to disguise his license plate number, a knife, a mask, and sedatives.

A Didi representative told TechNode that the company has no comment on the ruling, adding that to date, police had cracked 100% of major criminal cases perpetrated via Didi’s platform.

The company also cited a report by China’s Supreme People Court that the crime rate of taxi drivers (including assault, smuggling, and driving dangerously) in 2017 was over 10 times that of ride-hailing drivers.

In early May, he picked up Zhong in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District. According to the court, Pan saw his opportunity in the lone female passenger apparently living in a high-end residential area. Local media reports he pulled over and forced Zhong to transfer him RMB 7,000 (around $1,000) via WeChat and Alipay. When Zhong struggled, Pan killed her and stole her belongings.

He was reportedly caught only 12 hours later by police and brought to trial in March 2017. Due to the defendant’s nervous breakdown, the hearing was adjourned to a later date.

Pan’s crime took place well before two high-profile murders of female passengers this year by male Didi drivers. Those incidents caused a national uproar and forced Didi to overhaul its services, implement a series of new safety features including more stringent background checks for its drivers, and undergo a corporate restructuring.

Days after a driver was robbed and murdered by his passenger, Didi also rolled out safety upgrades for drivers. China’s ride-hailing giant is being watched closely by both government as well as the public, and its actions may set a precedent for the rest of the industry.

China’s transport ministry said last month that the ride-hailing giant had “lost control” of its drivers and vehicles. It added that the company’s carpool service Hitch lacked adequate safety measures, which could result in significant hazards. It vowed to fine Didi executives after an investigation.