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Opinion ... ...
    Police, procuratorate have an image problem
Chen Hong
2004-07-22 06:18

On Wednesday the country's most eminent newspaper, People's Daily, published the latest development in Lu Haixiang's case - the findings of a new forensic medical report issued by the provincial procuratorate.

Lu, a young villager from Haining, East China's Zhejiang Province, drowned after he was taken by the police from a KTV club where he was hanging out with two women believed to be prostitutes.

His death triggered a series of clashes between his family, his fellow villagers and the local authorities, including the police and the procuratorate.

Lu's family suspected he was physically abused or even beaten to death. The police steadfastly denied the accusation.

The Lu family refused to accept the result of a forensic medical examination issued by the local procuratorate, which said Lu drowned. That is why a second forensic medical report was made.

The second report confirmed the original conclusion and stated "the police's behaviour did not have any causality with Lu's death in legal terms."

However, Lu's father has reportedly refused to accept the new report's conclusion.

Given the numerous details to be investigated, it is rather difficult for outsiders to tell right from wrong in this case. But the doubt and distrust directed at the local police, the procuratorate and officials expressed over and again by the Lu family, villagers and other people, offers food for thought.

As part of State apparatus, the police and the procuratorate are in direct contact with the common people. Despite their efforts and achievements in maintaining social order, they are subject to increasingly serious distrust.

The doubt and anger over the official explanation of Lu's death is not the lone example of this distrust.

Too many cases have surfaced in which police officers co-operated with criminals or took part in illegal activities.

It does not require a crystal ball to see what kind of disasters could prevail if the police, the procuratorate or the court have no credibility among the people.

We are willing to believe most police officers and procurators are doing their jobs properly. But the malpractice and dishonour of several members is enough to spark distrust.

If no measures are taken to change the situation, the interests of the people will be the prime victim of such distrust.

(China Daily 07/22/2004 page6)