Suspect found dead in interrogation room

By Wang Jingqiong in Beijing and Li Yingqing in Kunming (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-14 08:14

A suspected thief was found dead hanging in a police interrogation room in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province early Saturday morning, local police said yesterday.

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The deputy director of Wuhua District Public Security Bureau, Hou Xiaobing, said a forensic autopsy showed that Xing Kun, a 29-year-old theft suspect, hung himself.

But the death aroused public attention after a series of unnatural deaths in prisons and detention houses this year.

"Xing was healthy before going into the interrogation waiting room. He went through some emotional changes during the interrogation, but no torture was used," said Yao Zhihong, spokesman for Kunming municipal public security bureau.

But the police did not show any video or rope Xing used for hanging himself.

Hou said Xing was held in the room alone, and the camera on the ceiling did not get the picture of him hanging himself.

"The place Xing hung himself could not be seen from the camera," Hou said.

"We won't try to cover up anything if any official is found responsible for this," Yao said.

Xing's family has been very emotional, while the police "are trying to explain and comfort them," Yao said.

Yunan provincial officials have attached high importance to this case, and a team has been formed to further investigate the accident.

Hou said Xing stole Sony PlayStation Portable game machines worth 50,000 yuan ($7,300) from a local store.

Store owner Wu Yongcheng found Xing selling the stolen machines at a stadium entrance and then handed him over to local police on Friday.

Xing was put into an interrogation waiting room at 4 am on Saturday and was found dead less than four hours later, he said. Xing had admitted his crime during police interrogation, Hou said. Police said Xing was sentenced four times for theft from 1996 to 2008. The last time he was sentenced to four years in prison in 2005 for theft, and was released in September 2008.

In other cases that have aroused public attention, 24-year-old Li Qiaoming was beaten to death in February in a detention house in Yunnan province with authorities blaming it on an accident during a game of hide and seek.

On March 8, Xu Gengrong, a 19-year-old student, died on the seventh day of his detention in Shaanxi province on suspicion of stoning a schoolmate to death. An autopsy showed he died from injuries.

Qi Changjiang, a 30-year-old detainee in a detention house in Beijing's Haidian district, died in a hospital in Beijing on Sept 17. His diagnosis read: "Heartbeat suddenly stopped. 49 days without eating caused death."

Many lawyers and experts have been calling for protecting the legal and human rights of detainees.

On Nov 11, a seven-article regulation was drafted by the Ministry of Public Security and released by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, the country's Cabinet, seeking to better regulate the management of detention houses in general, which have long been accused of ignoring the legal rights of detainees.