President Hu orders probe into death of reporter

(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-24 20:07

Chinese President Hu Jintao ordered a thorough probe into the beating death of a newspaper employee, who was reportedly gathering information about illegal mining activities in northern China, reported today.

Related readings:
7 arrested after murder of reporter
Police probe scribe lynching in Datong
Reporter beaten to death media hushes up story

Seven of the 10 suspects in connection with the fatal assault of Lan Chengzhang - the deceased, have been detained and may face criminal charges.

However, local police said Lan's gathering of information at the mine may be related to a premeditation of extortion of the mine owner.

Reportedly, Lan made a call to Chang Hanwen, the head of the English department of China Trade News's Shanxi station, at about 9am on January 10, and asked Chang to visit the mine in Hunyuan County with him.

On their way to the mine, Lan told Chang the mine was operating without necessary licenses, and if they showed their identities as news reporters, they would be given at least 1,000 yuan (US$126.58) as "hush money."

Hou Zhenrun, the mine owner, arrived at the mine around 4pm with eight of his employees.

In the office of the mine, Hou asked Lan and Chang to show their reporter identifications. Lan and Chang showed their ID's, which were not officially issued.

Hou then left the room to call Lan's press room to verify their ID.

After Hou talked to the office, he angrily told Lan and Chang that he knew they were not qualified reporters.

He then asked his employees to heavily beat Lan and Chang and left the room with 2,000 yuan thrown onto the ground.

Lan died of a brain hemorrhage the next day in hospital. Chang suffered a broken arm and minor injuries.

The head of the newspaper's Shanxi office said the two were not authorized to conduct reporting missions because they were both on probation, and their investigation at the coal mine was "personal."

China's coal mines are the deadliest of any major producer, with a total of 4,746 workers killed in accidents in 2006, as collieries push production beyond safety limits in pursue of soaring profits.

Villagers said the mine, which was transferred to Hou four months ago, had been in operation for more than a year and was shut down following the attack. Shanxi, which produces a quarter of the country's coal, has closed more than 5,000 illegal mines in the past two years.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours