Suspect's 'suicide' at police station questioned

By Yan Jie in Beijing and Guo Anfei in Kunming (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-16 07:41
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Relatives of a suspected burglar who was found dead early Saturday at a police bureau are waiting for autopsy results, claiming that police torture caused the man's death.

Suspect's 'suicide' at police station questioned
The father of suspected burglar Xing Kun is helped out of the mortuary after an autopsy on his son yesterday. [Liu Puli

Local police in Kunming, capital of China's Yunnan province, insisted that the man committed suicide by hanging himself in a room used for interrogation. Police said no torture was used during the interrogation.

The procuratorate department is now in charge of further investigation into the case in accordance with China's judicial system and procedures.

The incident happened at a time when detention centers and prisons are drawing huge attention across the country for occasional harm and even death coming to suspects being held.

District- and city-level officials from Kunming's procuratorate departments yesterday conducted a four-hour long autopsy at a city funeral parlor in the presence of the family of Xing Kun, the 29-year-old burglary suspect, the man's father Xing Caifang, 60, told China Daily on the phone. The results of the autopsy are not yet known.

Officials from local police also came to the funeral parlor but only stayed outside, the father said.

"Officials from the procuratorate departments did not tell me when the results will be released and how I can reach them," Xing said.

"So I can't do anything about it but wait at home."

An official from the information office of the city's public security bureau said officials will hold a press conference when the results are released.

According to the police, Xing had been imprisoned four times in the past 13 years for burgling. He was last released in September 2008, after serving four years in prison.

Xing was captured last Friday for allegedly stealing video game consoles worth 50,000 yuan ($7,300) from a local store in early October.

Xing's father said he does not believe his son would commit suicide. The room where Xing was held is equipped with a video surveillance system, but Xing hanged himself in a spot not covered by the camera in the room, police said.

Still, the incident has raised the concerns of one of the country's top prosecutors.

"Detention centers and prisons should bear responsibilities for unnatural deaths and suicide cases there," Sun Qian, the deputy Prosecutor-General with the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said yesterday at a separate press conference in Beijing.

"State agencies have the right to investigate possible crimes and they also have the obligation to ensure the safety of suspects," he said.

He disclosed that policemen at dozens of these places have been accused of negligence in the past few years. He also pledged to improve and reinforce the regulation of detention centers and prisons.