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Police account of how boy lost eyes draws skepticism

By Hou Liqiang in Taiyuan and Lin Jing in Shenzhen | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-06 07:02

Many people remain skeptical about police claims that the 6-year-old boy whose eyes were gouged out last month was the victim of his own aunt.

Police in Shanxi province identified Zhang Huiying, 41, the boy's now-deceased aunt, as the suspect on Tuesday, based on their investigation and DNA test results. Zhang committed suicide six days after the incident.

But others - including some of the boy's relatives and neighbors who knew the woman well - doubt she is responsible.

Zhang's neighbors called her "a good wife" who never quarreled with others and who was "timid".

Some neighbors said they wondered why the boy, whose name is Guo Bin, did not recognize his own aunt.

Linfen police disclosed the details of the case late Wednesday evening.

Han Zhihui, a criminal investigation expert from the Linfen public security bureau, said tests on a purple shirt with dozens of bloodstains found at the scene on Aug 30 showed that it contained DNA of both Guo and Zhang.

The bloodstains were unlikely to be from the boy's rescue because Zhang was not one of the 12 people who tried to give the boy emergency aid, police said.

Zhang Liqing, a senior police officer at the bureau, said, "Witnesses have also confirmed a woman in a purple shirt took the boy away."

Han said the investigation proved that the shirt was left by Zhang Huiying, and she was the only person who wore it.

Zhang Liqing told China Central Television that the boy said "the woman and my aunt look the same". The police were talking with the boy with his parents present, according to the report.

The boy's father, Guo Zhiping, however, refused to comment on CCTV's report.

Details from the police also have left the public skeptical.

"It is not proper and against procedure to ask a victim if the suspect looked like a specific person. It is more likely a presumption of guilt," said a netizen on Sina Weibo, a micro-blogging service.

"You cannot say a person who did not take part in emergency aid is the suspect," wrote another commenter.

Meanwhile, Dennis Lam, an eye specialist from Hong Kong who has organized a team to follow the boy's case, said at a news conference in Shenzhen on Thursday that "Guo Bin still has a chance to see."

Lam disagrees with implanting artificial electronic eyes now, saying Guo Bin is too young and the technology still needs improvement.

The new technology requires implanting a chip in the head in order to receive an electronic signal from the artificial electronic eyes. It is unknown whether the chip will damage surrounding nerve tissue.

At the news conference, Lam showed a device called the BrainPort vision device, developed by a US company in 2009.

The device is designed to help a blind person see his or her surroundings in polygonal and pixelated form.

The device costs $10,000 to $20,000. The risks will be lower, Lam added, since no operation is needed.

Lam suggested that Guo Bin receive high-quality ocular prosthesis in Shanxi or Shenzhen first. He also offered to perform the operation for free if the boy can come to Shenzhen for the implant.

As of Thursday afternoon, Guo Bin's parents had not made a decision on the offer.

Wang Yuji, Guo Bin's uncle, said that the couple have their doubts about the technology.

When asked if he would take the boy to Shenzhen for the implant of the ocular prosthesis, Guo Zhiping said, "I cannot make a decision".

Chen Wenli and Zhao Yang in Shenzhen contributed to this story.

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