A court in China has convicted six Communist party officials in connection with the April drowning death of an official accused of corruption.
In a verdict made public on Monday, a court in eastern Zhejiang province sentenced the six to prison terms of four to 14 years.
Officials believe the convicted men repeatedly dunked Yu Qiyi, 42, in a tub of icy water in an attempt to get him to confess to suspected crimes related to a land deal.
His relatives published pictures online showing what they said was Yu's tortured body, which was covered in bruises. His wife, Wu Qian, told state media that he also lost significant weight during his 38 days in detention.
Pu Zhi Qiang, a human rights lawyer representing the family, was allowed to attend the trial last month, but was not permitted to speak.
He told VOA's Mandarin service that the party disciplinary system needs to be abolished.
"At present, all fundamental aspects of the party detention system violate the rule of law," he said. "It is also used to cover up the crimes committed by some people."
But Zhang Tong Xin, a professor at Renmin University in Beijing, says the party system is needed and serves a different function than the state legal system.
"The party system is used to deal with wrongdoing by party members. It has nothing to do with legal punishment," he said. "It is under party disciplinary guidance, unless criminal activity is involved, in which case the case is referred to the state system."
Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a high-profile anti-corruption campaign, warning that rampant graft could threaten the party's grip on power.