Lottery row sends man from heaven to hell
The life of 18-year-old Liu Liang has gone from heaven to hell in the past month. First he won first prize in a lottery - a BMW car and 120,000 yuan in cash - then lost the lot the next day when the lottery office told him his winning ticket was a fake.
Just who has been telling the truth in the affair - Liu Liang, a farm worker from Xi'an in North China's Shaanxi Province, or the Sports Lottery Centre - remains a mystery.
On the morning of March 23, Liu's sports lottery ticket was announced by the Sports Lottery Centre as the winner of the top prize: a BMW car and 120,000 yuan (US$14,457) in cash. The prize number was "Club K".
Liu wanted to take the car away immediately but staff at the lottery centre told him that they had not paid the BMW sales company yet and Liu would have to wait two days before he could claim the car. After having photographs taken of himself in the BMW and going for a drive around the city, Liu went home. He gave his winning lottery ticket to the lottery centre for safe-keeping overnight.
However, the next day, Liu received a call from the Sport Lottery Centre alleging his lottery was a forgery - it had been changed from the original "Club 2" to "Club K".
Liu insisted that he had not changed the ticket in any way and that the ticket had always read: "Club K". On March 25, Liu went to claim the car. When he was not allowed to take the car Liu became so angry that he climbed on top of a high advertising sign and shouted that he would jump off it to show he was innocent of any wrong-doing. Relatives managed to talk him out of committing suicide and he climbed down to the ground.
The following day, the Sports Lottery Centre held a press conference saying that the lottery ticket had been examined by experts who said it was a fake.
At first, Liu was suspected of having changed the ticket. However, he said that would have been impossible because he had scratched the ticket in front of the lottery centre's staff workers and had no time to change anything on the ticket.
As friction between Liu and the Xi'an Sports Lottery Centre mounted with both swearing they were honest, the local police entered the picture.
"In the early days, most people would have been suspicious of Liu as the credibility of a young peasant, about whom little was known, could not be compared with that of the Sports Lottery Centre, which is part of the government sector," said a story in Sina.com.
"However, as time went by and the investigation went deeper, people's opinion changed."
First, the sale of sports lottery tickets, once believed to be in the hands of the state, was revealed to have been contracted out to many individual sellers.
Second, an important witness in the case - Sun Chenggui, who had been given custody of Liu's ticket on the first night - was suddenly nowhere to be found.
Third, there were four people - including Liu - who supposedly won BMWs that day and three of them didn't even come to the lottery centre to claim their cars..
The Xincheng District People's Court has accepted the case for investigation and a court hearing has been set for May 19.