SHANGHAI: An investigation into an alleged illegal taxi operation, in which the driver claimed he was entrapped and cut off a finger to show his innocence, is now being supervised by legislators and media after a primary report aroused wide doubt.
The Pudong new area district government has formed a team of legislators, political advisers, lawyers and media to further investigate the incident, municipal government officials said yesterday afternoon.
The announcement was made soon after the district's city management and law enforcement bureau released a report on Tuesday, backing up its accusation that Sun Zhongjie ran an illegal cab operation on Oct 14.
"The evidence we collected has clearly proven that," it says.
"The collection of evidence conforms to law and there was no entrapment in the enforcement."
However, the statement has triggered great public suspicion. According to a poll yesterday on tianya.cn, a major online forum in China, 96 percent of about 14,000 respondents consider the judgment "a sheer lie" and asked for more information.
The 19-year-old driver told China Daily that he has not heard anything from the traffic law enforcement team about the incident.
Sun went to the district traffic law enforcement team to record an affidavit on Oct 16 and on Oct 19.
He was told it takes one week to complete an investigation.
"I did not sign the affidavit on Oct 16 because what I said got twisted around," he said.
"I went back on Oct 19 to record another affidavit and sign it, but I saw that they used my first affidavit."
Days earlier, on the evening of Oct 14, Sun was sent by his employer, Shanghai Pangyuan Construction Machinery Engineering Company, to pick up someone at Hangtou Town in Pudong district.
He arrived in Shanghai on Oct 12 from his hometown in Henan province.
A man stopped him on the way, begging for a lift, according to Sun.
Three minutes later, a van cornered him. The hitchhiker threw him a 10-yuan note and jumped out. People from the van seized him and said he was engaged in an illegal cab operation.
The vehicle was confiscated. If the charge is proven, Sun will have to pay a 10,000 yuan fine to get the car back.
"I was then escorted into the van and talked to another man who was already there for the same reason. We discovered that the hitchhikers we met resemble each other quite a lot and could be the same man," Sun said.
"It was obviously entrapment."
After going back to his company, Sun was blamed and he cut off his finger to prove he is innocent.
But on Tuesday, the bureau declined to publish the identity of the "passenger", claiming he is just a man with sense of justice, according to Li Chunming, a deputy director of Pudong New Area Environment Protection and City Appearance Bureau.
In Shanghai, traffic law enforcement teams award 200 to 300 yuan to people who report an illegal cab operation.
Sun Weixing, with the publicity department of the Shanghai municipal government, told China Daily yesterday that the report released on Tuesday does not conclude the investigation and has not been approved by the municipal government, which urged the district government to look into the incident.
On Sunday, municipal government officials responded to the incident by saying enforcement of traffic rules must conform to law. Any illegal enforcement will be punished once proved.
Wu Dong, a partner with M&A Law Firm, said the laws are still unclear about whether an illegal taxi should be outlawed.
"And we need to think about whether it is worthwhile to spend a large amount of government resources to crack down on black taxis," he said.