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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora