The family of the cook whose mysterious death caused the riot in Shishou, Hubei province, was offered 300,000 yuan ($44,000) after the initial negotiation with the local authority, according to a family member.
Riot policemen patrol in Shishou, Hubei province, yesterday, a day after a riot triggered by the mysterious death of a chef is quenched. (Inset) A woman offers two policemen watermelons. Yang Shizhong
Tu Yuangao, 24, was found dead in front of the Yonglong Hotel where he worked after falling from the third floor of the hotel. Thousands of protesters torched the hotel and overturned police cars on the weekend after authorities allegedly tried to cover up the murder as a suicide. Tu's family and protesters had refused to let his body be taken away by police.
The body was finally taken to a funeral parlor for autopsy after order was restored yesterday. Tu's family witnessed the autopsy, but the report wouldn't be released for 20 days, according to Tu Deqiang, Tu Yuangao's uncle.
"The police suggested we cremate Tu Yuangao's body as soon as the autopsy was completed, but we would like to wait until the report is released," Tu Deqiang told China Daily yesterday. "It is still under negotiation."
The crowds that clashed with military police had dispersed, though security was still tight in the city with a population of more than 610,000.
Some people believed that the chef was killed by gangsters while others said he was killed by the boss of the hotel, who is related to the city mayor.
But local government officials refused to comment on such allegations, saying they were still investigating the cause of death.
The military police had set up a temporary base camp close to the Yonglong Hotel. In groups of 10 they patrolled around the hotel and areas around, wearing helmets and holding shields and plastic batons. Loudspeakers were reading appeals from the municipal government to maintain order.
Around the blackened hotel, completely covered by plastic sheets, people gathered yesterday not to protest or pelt military police with rocks but simply to know if there were new developments. Some even offered military police watermelon slices as refreshment in the sultry summer day.
Zhang Yonglong, the owner of the hotel remained missing after the incident.
The hotel at the center of the riot was rumored to be used by dealers to distribute drugs.
"My friend used to buy heroin on the sixth floor of the Yonglong Hotel," a drug addict surnamed Niu told China Daily yesterday.
A man surnamed Zhang in his 50s said "the Yonglong Hotel is a den for drug-addicts".
He showed Xinhua reporters some used syringes in the rubbish at the back of the hotel.
But local government said nothing about the alleged wrongdoings of the hotel in the statement about the incident posted on its official website.
Li Yong, a well-known writer and blogger, and a former reporter with Legal Daily, said discontent with local officials and police were leading to more mass protests in the country.
Xinhua contributed to the story