Shot professor's family accuse Guangzhou police of cover-up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2007, 12:00am

About a dozen family members of a professor shot dead this week by Guangzhou police demonstrated outside provincial government offices yesterday, accusing police of trying to cover up the shooting.

The protesters, including the wife and 16-year old daughter of Yin Fangming , asked provincial leaders to tightly monitor the investigation, which is mainly in the hands of police. Family and colleagues fear the officers will skew the investigation and blame the death on the professor.

The protesters gathered at the offices at about 9.30am, with relatives holding placards bearing the characters for 'Clear Doctor Yin's Name'.

'Do not touch me. I am not going anywhere and I do not fear anyone, even the governor,' Yin's widow, Chen Yan , shouted at police trying to usher the protesters off the street and into an office for talks.

Yin, 43, an associate professor in Zhujiang Hospital's neurosurgery department, was shot dead at about 5am on Tuesday as police questioned him about the number plates on his vehicle.

Despite a provincial ban on coverage of the shooting, Yin's death has generated a storm of controversy in Guangzhou.

The city's Public Security Bureau issued a brief public statement on the case on Wednesday morning, saying police were forced to shoot at the professor after he tried to evade questioning by two officers and drive off. It said Yin had grabbed an officer's staff identity card and dragged the officer with him for several metres.

But Yin's family and colleagues say police are lying and they want to talk to a passenger in the car, Wang Yanming, a friend of Yin and the only witness who was not a police officer. They said police had not responded to requests to question the man.

Mr Wang was taken away by police on Tuesday morning to help with the inquiry, and his brother, Wang Jun, saw him in the offices of the Haizhu District Public Security Bureau at about 2am on Wednesday.

But no one, not even the lawyers hired by the hospital for Yin's family, have been able to contact him since.

A hospital source said Wang Yanming was believed to have been sitting in Yin's car discussing treatment for his dying father when Yin was shot.

Yin's family and colleagues said Wang Yanming was the one person who could clear Yin's name because his version of the shooting conflicted with the police statement.

An emergency room doctor said one of his colleagues heard Wang Yanming giving a statement to police and admitting Yin had taken the officer's staff identity card because the police had taken some of his papers. But he did not mention Yin's car injuring or dragging the officer.

Ms Chen said she and Wang Jun had repeatedly asked investigators about Wang Yanming's whereabouts and when he would be released.

But the police said they had no idea and could not answer such questions without asking for instructions from higher up.

'No one has told us why Mr Wang has been kept in police custody for such a long time,' Ms Chen said.

Yin's relatives said the Ministry of Public Security had sent a supervisory team to Guangzhou to monitor the investigation.

Beijing-based lawyer Mo Shaoping said Wang Jun should demand police give him a reason for keeping his brother in custody for almost four days. He said police could detain witnesses for questioning for no more than 12 hours. Suspects could be kept for up to 30 days.