A court in eastern China has opened a rare trial of six corruption investigators accused of torturing to death a public sector engineer whom they were interrogating.
The defendants charged with causing intentional injury in the case include five members of the Communist Party's discipline inspection department and one local prosecutor.
Their trial began Tuesday at a court in the city of Quzhou in Zhejiang province. Prosecutors accuse the six investigators of torturing 42-year-old engineer Yu Qiyi in April, by repeatedly dunking his head in a bucket of ice-cold water during questioning until he drowned.
Relatives said Yu was detained in early March on suspicion of corruption in connection with a land deal. The engineer had been working for a state-owned company, Wenzhou Industry Investment.
A lawyer for Yu's family complained to Western news agencies that the court blocked him and a colleague from attending Tuesday's hearing. Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang also accused Chinese authorities of failing to prosecute more senior officials who may have ordered the harsh interrogation of Yu.
Yu's ex-wife, Wu Qian, told Reuters, she believes there has been a cover-up.
Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a tougher crackdown on official corruption after taking office earlier this year, warning that the problem threatens the ruling party's survival.
But, two other junior-level Chinese officials have died in suspicious circumstances while under investigation for corruption in recent months.
In one case, a seismological official in central China's Hubei province, Qian Guoliang, died in June after suffering convulsions. Images on Chinese social media sites showed his body with bruises and sores.
In another case, a court official in central China's Henan province, Jia Jiuxiang, died in April after 11 days in custody. Authorities said the 49-year-old man died of a heart attack. Family members said his body also was bruised.