A FORMER medical student who is appealing against a death sentence for poisoning his roommate appeared at Shanghai Higher People’s Court yesterday.
Lin Senhao, 28, a former student at Fudan University, admitted he put a toxic chemical — dimethylnitrosamine (DMN) — in a water dispenser but it was an April Fool’s joke on Huang Yang, the student who died.
The hearing began at 10am and Lin, wearing a black coat, kept his head down and replied to questions in a calm tone. But when he was asked what he wanted to say to Huang and Huang’s parents, he burst into tears.
Lin told the court: “On March 30 last year, Huang told us a prank that if you soak a sleeping person’s feet in hot water, he would wet the bed.” That gave him the idea of playing a trick on Huang and he remembered a chemical he once used in a laboratory experiment.
He got some of the chemical from a lab and brought it to his dormitory in a medical waste bag. Then he put some of the liquid into the water dispenser.
“I diluted the mixture in the dispenser by taking two or three cups of the mixture out and adding the same amount of tap water,” Lin said.
Huang drank some water from the dispenser the next morning, Lin said. Huang found the taste was weird and spat the water out. Lin pretended he was sleeping when Huang was doing this but said he left the dorm soon after feeling guilty.
On April 2, Huang told Lin that he felt uncomfortable and asked Lin to accompany him to see a doctor. When Lin was told that Huang had been taken to hospital he thought Huang was making too much of his discomfort as he had appeared to be in good health just a few hours before.
“I saw him in the hospital on April 5 after he was moved into the ICU, which made me find it might be a bit serious. He was smiling through the glass to me but I said nothing to him because I felt guilty,” Lin told the court. Because 58 of 70 rats injected with the chemical in his experiment had survived, Lin believed Huang would be fine.
“In fact, I decided to face up to the incident on April 2 but still didn’t dare to report it to others or police. I was just waiting for Huang to ask me about it,” Lin said yesterday.
Huang died on April 16.
Lin was later told to go to the university’s security office to answer some questions and was told Huang’s condition had worsened and he was showing symptoms of jaundice.
Eventually, during a third round of questioning by police, he admitted putting the chemical in the dispenser.
“All I thought about at that time was how to get out of the police office. I could never imagine Huang’s condition would be that serious.”
Lin denied suggestions he bore a grudge against Huang.
“I did that only out of curiosity and wondered what’s Huang’s response would be,” he said.
Lin said he never felt hate or envy for Huang and any suggestions by other students that he did was just speculation. He said a claim he was jealous of Huang’s performance in a PhD admission test was not true as he had already quit the test.
A forensic expert called by Lin’s family to give evidence told the court he believed the real cause of Huang’s death was “a burst of viral hepatitis B.”
Dr Hu Zhiqiang told the court: “Huang’s tests of three hepatitis B indexes were all positive on April 6, 8 and 12. And his symptoms were very similar to hepatitis B ones.”
But a forensic expert who gave evidence in the original case, Dr Chen Yijiu, said: “The autopsy and some other tests all proved it was DMN that caused Huang’s liver failure”.
Lin said he had no reason to murder Huang and had just tried to teach him a lesson. The charge should not be murder but intentional injury, he said.
At the end of the hearing, the court said it would give its decision later.