Findings fail to resolve local activists' concerns

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2012, 12:00am


Local activists say the investigation into the death of June 4 dissident Li Wangyang failed to address their concerns and they planned to invite a foreign pathologist to scrutinise the report.

A medical expert also questioned the finding that the activist committed suicide, saying it would be illogical to find Li's cervical vertebra were broken while his feet remained on the ground.

Pan-democrat Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said the report only proved the cause of death was hanging - it did not explain in detail whether Li committed suicide or was killed.

Local authorities initially said Li had committed suicide but later - amid pressure from Hongkongers - said he died 'accidentally'. The Hunan government launched an inquiry eight days after his death.

It was reported that the investigation into the death of Li - a blind and deaf labour activist who was jailed for 21 years and found hanging in a Hunan hospital ward last month - was concluded on June 19 but details were only released yesterday.

Professor Luo Bin of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, who was involved in the autopsy, declined to comment on the report yesterday. 'We need to be disciplined. It's not convenient to comment,' he told Cable TV.

Dr Philip Beh Swan-lip, a pathologist at the University of Hong Kong, said the findings did not make sense. 'The finding of a fracture of the cervical spine is very problematic. I have never seen such a finding in hanging cases regardless of whether the feet touch the ground or not,' he said.

Lee said the report did not attempt to rule out the possibility Li had been killed.

'Why did the authorities not interview the security guards staying outside Li's room to find out what actually happened during that night?' Lee asked. 'No Hongkongers will be convinced by the report's conclusion, as it was conducted by their people, while no one will believe that the Hunan officials did not attempt to protect each other.'

More than half of those questioned in a straw poll by the South China Morning Post during the July 1 march - in which organisers estimated 400,000 people took part and police estimated 63,000 marched - said Li's death was among the reasons that prompted them to join the demonstration.

Lee urged the central government to step in. He has invited an Australian pathologist, Dr Stephen Cordner, to review the report once it is available and to identify suspicious points of the mainland's investigation.

Alliance vice-chairman Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong also doubted the findings.

'I am afraid it cheated the public once again,' he said. 'The probe was a political trick to alleviate Hongkongers' dissatisfaction while President Hu Jintao was about to visit the city in late June.'

Lee and Tsoi said they had not yet been able to contact Li's family, while the Hong Kong China News Agency showed a written note by Li's family that they wanted to avoid the media. But it was not known if they wrote the note voluntarily.

Miriam Lau Kin-yee, the Liberal Party chairwoman and a delegate to the National People's Congress, said: 'We can't only look at the result, but also need to look at whether the investigation was conducted in a just and fair manner.'

Last night the Hong Kong government said it 'will not make any comment under the principle of 'one country, two systems''.

A spokesman reiterated that the government had conveyed the public's concerns to Beijing and other relevant mainland authorities.

Two members of the League of Social Democrats, Lo Hom-chau and Chan Yu-nam, arrived in Beijing yesterday with a petition signed by 4,000 people asking for the truth about Li's death to be made public and to release Li's family members.

They said they had been tailed by police since arriving in the capital.