Opinion / Opinion Line

Hydropower station staff obliged to retrieve body of drowned girl

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-17 07:55

An employee at a local hydroelectric station in Baoji, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, reportedly found the body of a 17-year-old girl in the reservoir, but did not retrieve it until her family paid him 1,500 yuan ($232). It has been confirmed that he has quit his job because of the "media pressure" and the head of the station has been suspended from work. Beijing Times condemns such mistreatment of the dead and urges the local authorities to investigate the incident:

For all citizens alike, it is both a moral and legal obligation to respect the dignity of the dead and retrieve their bodies; not doing so may even constitute a criminal offense.

Unlike those who volunteer to retrieve a body from a river only if they are paid, the hydroelectric station worker in Baoji deserves no extra reward. Instead, he should be held criminally responsible because his job was to clean the reservoir and prevent the water from being polluted, not to mention the fact that retrieving the body from the reservoir would be much easier than from a river.

Worse, seeing the body's recovery as a way to make money, he left the teenager's body in the water for days until he was paid, showing no respect to the deceased or her family.

That being said, such contempt for human dignity is not just a moral misdemeanor, but a possible violation of the law, since his solicitation of money from the girl's family may constitute extortion. In regard to his civil liability, the man should not only return the money he was given to recover the girl's body, he should also compensate the girl's family for the emotional distress he caused them.

The operators of the hydroelectric station, too, should do more than just suspend its manager. It must fully recognize the severity of the incident, offer a proper apology and compensation to the family of the girl, and receive punishment if it is found responsible for the girl's death.

The police and all relevant departments should expedite the investigation to find out the truth.

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