Student held for trio's poisoning

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2007, 12:00am

A university student in Jiangsu province has been arrested for allegedly poisoning three classmates with the highly toxic metal thallium, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Three students from China University of Mining and Technology in Xuzhou, Jiangsu, needed hospital treatment for symptoms of food poisoning a few days after having dinner in the university canteen on May 31.

They were later diagnosed with thallium poisoning, New Express Daily reported.

Investigators found excessive levels of thallium on their food bowls. Thallium is colourless, odourless and deadly in doses as small as one gram. It can damage the nervous system and kidneys.

Police later detained a student surnamed Chang, a classmate of the three victims. Chang had dinner with the three that night but there was no trace of thallium on his bowl.

Chang later confessed to poisoning his classmates in revenge because he felt he was being treated like an outcast by them. He said he wanted to 'let them taste the torture of being poisoned', the newspaper said.

Chang was said to have diluted the thallium with water, invited the victims to dinner and put the contaminated water into their food when they were away from the table.

Police said Chang and the three victims were friends until they fell out over a trivial dispute.

Investigators were still trying to find out how Chang obtained the thallium.

In a highly publicised case in 1995, Zhu Ling , a chemistry student at Tsinghua University, suffered paralysis and serious neurological problems after being poisoned with thallium. The case is still unresolved.

The latest campus poisoning case has led to renewed public interest in the increasing number of attacks in mainland universities triggered by frictions among students.

One of the most notorious cases was in 2004 when a Yunnan University student murdered four fellow students over a card game dispute.