** 9 Months After A Six-Year-Old Was Kidnapped, His Father Accidentally Spotted Him In A Shopping Mall

 

Image: YouTube/BFM News

A Chinese family’s life was turned upside down when the baby of the household was kidnapped from their home in May 2016. And after an exhaustive search, the six-year-old boy was seemingly nowhere to be found. But – almost unbelievably – nine months later, the dad was shocked to the core when he happened to spot his son in a local shopping mall. There was a problem, however: the little guy was not alone…

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

On May 27, 2016, Chen Zhonghong lived with his wife and two kids in the village of Matang in the south-eastern province Guangdong in China. That day, he reportedly went to work as usual, but, with his wife elsewhere, he was forced to leave his children alone at home. Chen therefore left his daughter in charge of her younger brother, Cheng Jiafu. Little did the dad know that would be the last time he saw his elementary-school-aged son for approaching a year.

Image: via Weixin

Chen later told police that he had left his children watching TV in the family home. But according to reports, little Jiafu had been abducted from the residence just two hours later. A neighbor is said to have called by the house, at which point the daughter explained that a stranger had visited and swiped her sibling.

Image: YouTube/Blagag!

So it seems that the father returned from work and discovered the devastating news that Jiafu had been snatched. The family then called the police and reported the abduction. That is when a major missing-person search was launched to try and locate the boy.

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

Understandably, Chen appeared totally distraught about his son’s disappearance. He and the rest of the family had, after all, just been plunged into a nightmare world of not knowing who took Jiafu, where he could be or why anyone would do such a wicked thing. Chen undoubtedly just hoped that somewhere out there his little boy was still alive.

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

The Chinese police reportedly worked hard to track down the child and the people who kidnapped him. According to Chinese press reports, the authorities received hundreds of tips from the public concerning the missing boy, too. The police were also informed about many potential sightings. Sadly, however, it turned out that none of these witnesses had seen the real Jiafu.

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

So despite all of the exhaustive efforts of those involved, the police did not find Jiafu. And with no promising leads, the trail had gone cold. It wouldn’t be surprising if, at this point, the family began to worry that he never would be found. Then, three-quarters of year later, a chance encounter led Chen to his son.

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

By February 21, 2017, Jiafu had been missing for almost nine months. But that was the day that the bereft Chen chose to visit a shopping center in the nearest big city to their village. The mall in Qingxin was located just a half-hour away by road from the family home in Matang.

Image: YouTube/Blagag!

And it was while he was walking through Qingxin Town Plaza that Chen was stopped in his tracks. He saw something that he just could not believe. Not an amazing bargain or a spectacular window display, but something much more valuable and precious: his Jiafu. But Chen’s son was in the company of three adult strangers. What could the poor man do now?

Image: YouTube/Blagag!

In fact, as soon as Chen recognized his son, he seemingly knew that there was only one thing he could do. Perhaps believing that if he had to wait for the authorities to arrive the gang could have fled with his son, Chen hung back and waited until the two men and one woman guarding the boy were distracted. Then he managed to seize Jiafu and swept him up out of harm’s way.

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

Chen next made an emergency call to the cops to tell them that he had bumped into his son, snatched him back and that he had seen the criminals responsible. Fortunately, the authorities arrived at the Qingxin Town Plaza with speed. Indeed, officers were able to successfully apprehend the trio before they had a chance to flee the mall.

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

Chilling security-camera footage of part of the events has been released to the public. One sequence shows a man holding Jiafu’s hand and striding with him through the mall. The video also reveals the moment that officers swooped into capture the criminals. In this clip, two plain-clothed officers outside the shopping center run up to and then pull a suspect off a motorcycle before they could make their escape.

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

After saving him from the abductors, a no doubt jubilant Chen was later able to take Jiafu home. Although the little boy had been away for many months and was allegedly in danger of being sold, he fortunately suffered no abuse at the hands of his abductors. And needless to say, his family were thrilled to have him returned safely home.

Image: Weixin

Meanwhile, the perpetrators were taken into custody and charged with their crimes, including suspected human trafficking. The members of the gang were identified to the media only by their family names. The ringleader was called Ou, and his accomplices were a female, Li, and another male by the name of Chen – no relation. The trio were arraigned to appear in court later in 2017.

Image: via Weixin

So it was that Ou, Li and Chen were brought before the bench at the Qingxin People’s Court on November 10, 2017. Judge Hou Zhaoxing officiated over the trial. Summing up, he said Ou had planned to sell Jiafu to another family. The judge also stated that Ou had planned to sell other kidnapping victims to people who did not have children of their own.

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Indeed, the court heard that Ou was the one who took Jiafu from his Matang home that day in May 2016. The lead perpetrator had lured the child away with the promise of buying him candy, according to the court. There were other claims that Jiafu had been specifically targeted by the gang because of a grievance held against the boy’s mother.

Image: Weixin

At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Hou pronounced the three defendants guilty. Ou was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 yuan – or some $1,583 – for kidnapping and human trafficking. Meanwhile, Li was handed three years jail time and Chen two years, both for child abduction.

Image: YouTube/Youtube dans le monde

Although the combined 11-year sentence and relatively minuscule fine may seem like a small price to pay for such appalling actions, it is standard criminal procedure in China. In fact, Chinese law states that people who are caught abducting and trafficking women or children “are to be sentenced to five to ten years in prison plus fine.” Those who are found buying abducted children or women can receive a maximum of three years behind bars.

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Nevertheless, sentences can be longer if the circumstances are more serious and involve additional crimes, such as sexual assault or the use of narcotics. Criminals found guilty of kidnapping people as hostages or for blackmail purposes can expect ten years to life in jail. And if the kidnapping results in a killing of the victim, the perpetrator will receive the death penalty.

Image: witf

While Jiafu’s time in captivity and amazing mall rescue had a happy ending, the boy was one of the lucky ones. In 2017 the U.S. State Department listed China in tier three of the American rankings for worldwide human trafficking. This made it one of the worst offending countries when it comes to allowing the sale of people to occur. Horrifyingly, today there are an estimated 20 million victims of human trafficking globally.

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