Police microblog helps catch murderers in East China

Updated: 2010-12-01 20:32
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FUZHOU - Police in an east China city said Wednesday that their microblog helped them catch the murderers of a three-year-old girl.

The murder is the first publicly reported one to be solved with the help of Chinese microbloggers.

The girl's parents have confessed to murdering their daughter and then dumping the body in the sea off Xiamen City, said Lu Zhicheng, spokesman for the public security bureau of Xiamen, Fujian Province.

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Photos of police arresting the couple on the official microblog of Xiamen police - - continues to attract comments. The faces of the couple were blacked out in the photos.

The police microblog has 25,202 fans, or microbloggers who receive updates from it. Police posted a photo of the girl's body on the microblog on November 23, nine days after it was discovered on a beach.

A 5,000 yuan ($750) reward was offered for information to help identify the body. The photo was transmitted to more than 10,000 microbloggers and drew over 2,000 comments.

The police received about 100 pieces of information from microbloggers which helped them to identify the girl and track down her parents in neighboring Jiangxi Province.

"An Internet user recognized the child and helped us connect with her grandfather, who told us the whereabouts of the girl's parents," said police officer Liu Dongqiang.

The parents did not report the child missing, which was abnormal and aroused suspicion, Liu added.

"Our microblog received a lot of hits on Monday and Tuesday when the suspects were arrested and confessed to the crime," Liu said.

Liu and his colleagues worked day and night to communicate with the microbloggers. "The passion of the microbloggers greatly encouraged us. We were excited and proud that people care about and recognize our work."

"The power of the police is limited but the power of the people knows no bounds," Lu said.

The case was a good start and Xiamen's police will continue to ask microbloggers for help to solve cases, Lu added.

Microblogs have become popular with local public security bureaus in China. The first official police microblog was launched by police in Zhaoqing City in south China's Guangdong Province on February 25.

"Police who can communicate with the people via microblogs are truly respectable," Internet user Wayne said in a posting.

But Wayne expressed concern about how long police microblogs will remain sincere and useful. "Will they turn out to be useless once the fad is over?"

Many Internet users share his concern.

"Police microblogs were launched to solve real problems, not to attract attention," said Deng Jianwei, a spokesman for Guangdong police, who were the first to attach importance to microblogging.