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.
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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid