World News

China Opens Rare Trial of Investigators Accused of Torture

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 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.

As Yu also was a Communist Party member, authorities interrogated him under a secretive system called "shuanggui," a form of detention reserved for party officials suspected of disciplinary offenses.

Human Rights Watch Asia researcher Maya Wang told VOA that detentions in shuanggui facilities happen outside of the law regulating China's criminal justice system.


"There are none of the procedural protections that usually exist in criminal procedures, so torture and mistreatment of individuals who are held in these facilities are quite common. The fact that we hear about it now is probably because of the anti-corruption drive, meaning that there are more officials ending up in these facilities."


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.



Under the crackdown, two other junior-level Chinese officials suspected of corruption have died in shuanggui detentions in recent months.

Human Rights Watch researcher Wang said the Chinese government has done little to stop such abuses.


"There are some efforts within the ordinary criminal procedure system to prevent torture, because news of torture when it finds its way to the press usually generates lots of outrage by Chinese citizens. So in recent years, the Chinese government has paid some more attention to this and instituted some reforms in the criminal procedure system. But these reforms have not meant better protection in this shuanggui system."


Wang said many Chinese find it acceptable for corrupt officials to be detained under an internal party system that does not affect average citizens.


"Once somebody comes out of the system, they don't really want to talk about it because they are party members, unlike for example an ordinary person who was tortured in a police cell. So compared to the ordinary criminal procedure system, torture in the shuanggui system continues to persist and there is very little pressure from Chinese citizens to change that and as a consequence there are not much procedural protections."


Chinese state-run media have said little about Yu's death.

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 Yu's harsh interrogation.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs