News / Asia

China Opens Rare Trial of Investigators Accused of Torture

Yu Qiyi poses for a photo at an exhibition held at a hotel in Beijing, Sept. 2, 2012.  Investigators accused of torturing him to death are presently on trial in Quzhou in Zhejiang province.
Yu Qiyi poses for a photo at an exhibition held at a hotel in Beijing, Sept. 2, 2012. Investigators accused of torturing him to death are presently on trial in Quzhou in Zhejiang province.
TEXT SIZE - +
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.  The engineer had been working for a state-owned company, Wenzhou Industry Investment.

Internal justice

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 said in an interview with 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," Wang said.  "The fact that we hear about it now is probably because of the government's 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.

Suspicious deaths

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.

Beijing has done little to stop such abuses, Wang said.

"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," she said.  "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 the shuanggui system."

Lack of concern

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.

Yu's ex-wife, Wu Qian, told Reuters, she believes there has been a cover up.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
September 20, 2013 10:17 AM
While this trial is a right step, it's not enough to prosecute six officials for torture while thousands of others continue to torture Chinese, Tibetan & Uighur prisoners w/ the approval of CCP leaders. The Chinese judicial system needs to be overhauled so that judges are independent of the CCP and evidence obtained via torture is inadmissible.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid