Video catches suicide attempt in custody

By Yan Jie in Beijing and Guo Anfei in Yunnan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-17 08:29
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Video footage provided by local police yesterday showed a burglary suspect had attempted to commit suicide before he was found dead at a detention center.

Video catches suicide attempt in custody

The evidence is meant to dismiss claims by the man's family that he had been tortured to death by police while being held at a security bureau in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, last Saturday.

The death of Xing Kun occurred as detention centers and prisons are coming under public scrutiny across China for incidents of beatings and even deaths suffered by suspects.

Officials yesterday afternoon displayed footage from the video surveillance system at a joint press briefing held by the procuratorate department and the police.

In the footage, Xing is seen unlocking the handcuffs with a banknote as he was alone in an investigation room, then trying but failing to hang himself with a bootlace.

The video surveillance system did not record the moment when Xing died because that area of the room was uncovered by the system, police had said earlier.

Xing died from hanging and was not tortured to death by police, said officials from the People's Procuratorate of Kunming, citing an autopsy report.

The autopsy was conducted on Tuesday by the city's procuratorate department in the presence of Xing's family members, including his father, Xing Caifang.

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Xing Caifang wondered how his son had managed to bring a bootlace with him into the interrogation room, citing common practices by the police that suspects should be searched for anything that can be used to commit suicide or self-harm.

"The evidence along with the autopsy results are still not solid enough to convince me," said Xing Caifang on the phone. "One day the truth will finally come out."

Addressing his questions about the wounds on Xing's body, the procuratorate department said the injuries were bruises caused when the burglary suspect was captured last Friday.

The family does not know what to do next, he added. They cannot afford the fees to file a lawsuit against the authorities, although one lawyer reportedly has expressed willingness to help.

Xing also complained that the authorities did not inform him of the press briefing.

"It was not until I read a local newspaper that I knew there would be a press briefing," he said.