Support for woman held over killing of official

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 May, 2009, 12:00am

A police report released yesterday into the stabbing death of a government official by a pedicurist has raised fears that the official and another man will avoid blame.

The case has prompted among netizens an outpouring of support for the powerless and anger at officialdom.

On May 10, 21-year-old Deng Yujiao, a pedicurist at Xiongfeng hotel in Hubei's Badong county, allegedly stabbed Deng Guida , head of a government trade promotion department, to death and severely injured another government official, Huang Dezhi . They had allegedly attempted to force her to provide 'special service'.

Badong county police said yesterday they were investigating Deng Yujiao for murder.

According to police announcements made on May 11 and yesterday, Deng was washing clothes at the entertainment venue when the two men approached her and asked her for 'special services' - a euphemism for sex.

She refused, saying she her job at the hotel did not involve providing such services. Deng Guida then hit her on the head with a wad of banknotes and pushed her twice to the sofa. She allegedly used a fruit knife to stab him four times.

Netizens were quick to point out Badong police had toned down the description of the men's demands from 'special services' to 'opposite sex bathing services'.

Also the location where the two officials first saw her has been changed from 'staff resting room' to 'spa service room'.

Public interest lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said on his blog that this change in wording could get the two officials off the hook for demanding sexual services or even the more serious charge of attempted rape.

'We must remain rational,' Mr Liu said. 'We should leave what belongs to the law to the lawyers. All we netizens should do is to prevent the girl from being injured further.'

As in many high-profile cases of perceived social injustice in recent years, the internet has become a force pushing the case forward and revealing new facts. Netizens suggested Deng Yujiao should be acquitted on grounds of self-defence, and others said the case was another illustration of corrupt and immoral officials exploiting the powerless.

Another twist to the case is that Deng Yujiao was found to be suffering from depression and is being detained in a mental hospital pending investigation.

A netizen from Hebei nicknamed 'Tufu', meaning butcher, managed to persuade the hospital to allow him to briefly meet her yesterday. He said he was doing this to express the support of the internet community for her and he did not discuss the case with Deng. He said she looked fine and smiled at him when he gave her netizens' regards.

Two lawyers, appointed by Deng Yujiao's mother, were also on their way to offer legal assistance, but they were unsure whether they would be allowed to meet her.

Police said that the report was not final and was subject to further investigation.