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Lawyer backing dead cook's family
By Cai Ke (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-27 07:42

A lawyer representing the detained family members of Tu Yuangao, whose suspicious death sparked a riot in Shishou, Hubei province does not believe they committed a crime.

The five relatives are being held for allegedly "organizing a mass activity to cause public disorder" on July 17.

Xuan Dong, a veteran lawyer with 25 years experience in criminal law, interviewed some family members.

"I have met three of the arrested five, who are held under criminal detention. Based on that meeting, I've reached the preliminary conclusion that they are not guilty," Xuan said.

"I still haven't seen the police's evidence against them," he said.

The other two family members are now being held in public security detention, a facility that allows for a maximum detention of 15 days.

"We can't rule out the possibility that some people were intent on instigating a riot, but if the government had responded swiftly and given Tu's family an answer (as to how he died), all of this could have been prevented," he added.

Tu, a 23-year-old cook, was found dead on June 17 after falling from the third floor of the Yonglong Hotel, where he worked. Police quickly ruled the death as a suicide.

Meanwhile, two Shishou officials were sacked over their handling of the riot, according to a notice published on the Shishou government website on July 25.

(China Daily 07/27/2009 page3)