Chinese Lawmaker’s Death in Police Custody Sparks Riot

Posted June 11th, 2011 at 9:30 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A local Chinese legislator's death while in police custody sparked a riot in Hubei province, and authorities say they are investigating other officials' role in the incident.

Councilman Ran Jianxin had been arrested last month for allegedly taking bribes, and it was learned this week that he died while in custody in Lichuan city. Unconfirmed reports say Ran had spoken out against planned land seizures by the local government in Lichuan.

Ran's relatives say his body was heavily bruised, and they believe the 49-year-old man died of “unnatural” causes.

More than 1,500 people angered by the incident massed outside government offices in Lichuan Thursday. Protesters threw bottles and other objects and smashed down the gate to a government compound.

Photos posted to the Internet show large crowds in Lichuan scuffling with police. It has been impossible to verify the photos' authenticity, and local authorities in the Hubei province city have refused to speak to Western reports.

State media reports Saturday indicate four or more officials are under investigation for their role in the incident. Xinhua news agency says a senior Communist party official in Lichuan, one of the targets of the investigation, has been suspended, and that another party official has resigned.