CHINA> Regional
No officials' kin involved in girl's death in Guizhou
By Fu Jing (China Daily/Xinhua)
Updated: 2008-07-02 06:52

GUIYANG - Police on Tuesday reiterated that no officials' relatives were responsible for the death of a girl that sparked violence in Weng'an county of Guizhou province on Saturday.

About 30,000 people torched the local public security bureau and government buildings and 42 vehicles, alleging that the children of some officials had raped and killed the 17-year-old Li Shufen.

The mayhem that lasted seven hours left 150 people, including policemen, injured, for which 59 people had been arrested till on Tuesday.

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The burned vehicles have been removed from the government complex, and life is returning to normal in parts of the town.

Police insist that Li, a student of No 3 Middle School in Weng'an, committed suicide by jumping into a river on June 21 because she was unhappy with life. Her body was found floating the next day.

The three persons she last met were members of farmers' families, Wang Xingzheng, a spokesman for the provincial public security bureau, told a news briefing last night.

She had gone on an outing with her 21-year-old boyfriend surnamed Chen, and two other friends, an 18-year-old boy surnamed Liu and a 16-year-old girl surnamed Wang on June 21, the spokesman said.

She had told them about her feelings, which her friends did not take very seriously, Wang Xingzheng said. But while they were busy with something else, she jumped into the river.

They tried to save her, but when they realized it was impossible to do so, they called police, the spokesman said.

The provincial government has sent 10 officers and forensic experts to re-investigate the death. And Wang Daixing, the forensic scientist, who conducted a post mortem on Li's body, said that she had not been raped.

Zhou Guoxiang, deputy police chief of Weng'an public security bureau, denied rumors that policemen had harassed Li's relatives when they had come to seek justice from authorities.

He, however, said that an unidentified man beat up Li's uncle on a street, and police are trying to find out who the attacker was.

Shi Zongyuan, Party chief of Guizhou, said on Monday that some people with ulterior motives had incited the mob into frenzy. Some of those people were gangsters, and had taken part in the violence.

Shi was in Weng'an to direct officials and police to restore normalcy, and said those responsible for the mayhem should get strict punishment.

It was the local officials' shortcoming that angered the people, he said, and criticized them for letting the situation get out of hand.

"We must learn a lesson from these problems." He said there have to be "deep-seated" reasons behind the girl's death and the violence that followed.

Officials had not paid due attention to disputes over mines and relocation of people for construction projects for quite a long time, Shi said. This may have bred discontent among the residents.

He met with local representatives, including retired officials, business people, students and witnesses on Monday evening, and stressed the importance of social stability. "We must put maintaining social harmony and stability on top of the agenda."

The county public security bureau has appealed to people to maintain order.