Wengan student suggested drowning pact, three friends say

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2008, 12:00am

Li Shufen , the 17-year-old Wengan county student whose death ignited a massive riot in Guizhou last week, suggested out of the blue that she and three other young people commit suicide by drowning, according to interviews with the three published yesterday.

Giving their recollections for the first time of the night of June 21, Li's classmate Wang Jiao; Li's boyfriend, Chen Guangquan; and Chen's friend Liu Yanchao all told the Guizhou Metropolitan Daily and the Guizhou Commercial Daily that the girl had committed suicide.

Wang Jiao said that Shufen had invited all of them for a get-together on that night.

'Li said 'Let's go out for fun with Chen Guangquan and Liu Yanchao', and Li used my mobile to call Chen,' she was quoted as saying.

'Li drank some wine that night and asked us to go for a walk at about 11 that night.'

The trio said they complied with Shufen's request and went down to the neighbourhood riverbank.

'She [Li] looked very happy and high that night,' Wang Jiao said.

Liu Yanchao was quoted as saying: 'She suddenly said to me, 'Why don't we just jump in and die? If we fail, we just go on living'. I thought she was just kidding.'

Half an hour after the conversation, Shufen suddenly jumped into the river.

According to the students, the two boys, Chen Guangquan and Liu Yanchao, tried to save the girl but failed.

Liu Yanchao quickly called the police, but the girl was gone. '[The police] said there was no chance of saving her,' he said.

The authorities found Shufen's body the next day and, after a quick investigation, concluded she had committed suicide.

Her family claimed the girl was raped and murdered, but the police report said it was drowning. Rumours had begun to spread in the community that she was raped and murdered by some local officials' relatives who lured the girl from her home.

Thousands of angry villagers and residents went to the police station last Saturday and protested, expressing their 'dissatisfaction' with the investigation.

However, three autopsies since the protest confirmed that Shufen had drowned. Authorities also insisted that the three students never attacked Shufen sexually and were just villagers without ties to any officials.

'We certainly were dating, but we never lived together,' Chen Guangquan told the papers. 'We never had sexual intercourse, either.'

But Wang Jiao did say an unidentified man called Shufen regularly and suggested that she was unhappy with the amount of attention her parents gave to her brother.

Despite the police finding and the interviews, neither the police nor the teenagers have offered a reason that Shufen would kill herself.