Paper punishes 4 after reporter's death

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2007, 12:00am

Four officials of a Beijing newspaper have been punished following the death of an employee who was beaten by thugs hired by Shanxi coal mine owners.

The deputy publisher of China Trade News, Li Zicheng, was sacked last month because the paper decided he should be held responsible for hiring Lan Chengzhang, who died on January 11 after being attacked with clubs during an interview at a mine in Hunyuan, Datong, a source from the paper said.

Three other people - assistant chief editor Wang Jianfeng, Shanxi bureau chief Chang Xuri, and his deputy Liu Zhiqiang - were suspended from their jobs, the source said.

The attack on the 35-year-old drew domestic and international media attention, and President Hu Jintao later ordered an investigation into the case.

The source said Mr Li was fired because of his mismanagement of local bureaus.

'The newspaper thinks that if Mr Li had not decided to let the new Shanxi bureau chief [Mr Chang] take over from his predecessor [in December last year] so quickly, they wouldn't have hired Lan,' he said.

The newspaper at first denied that Lan was an employee of its Shanxi bureau, but a day later said he was a newly hired reporter who had yet to receive a reporter's licence because he was still on probation.

Local police accused Lan of trying to extort money from mine owners by threatening to expose irregularities. His case has sparked discussion on the role of reporters and an increase in people posing as reporters to blackmail businesses.