China is denying reports that a Beijing court has imprisoned 10 men for illegally detaining citizens who tried to lodge complaints with the central government.
Chinese media reported Sunday that 10 officials from central Henan province hired men to stop petitioners from airing their grievances in Beijing in an effort to cover up abuses.
In a story later posted to its website, the official China Daily
newspaper quoted a Beijing court spokeswoman saying the report was false. The China Daily later removed the report completely from its site.
Under China's "petitioning" system, people can request that the central government investigate abuses by local officials at a complaints office in the capital.
Rights groups said petitioners are often forced to go back home or are detained in illegal facilities called "black jails."
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.