5 hurt in attack on newspaper

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 November, 2010, 12:00am

Six thugs headed by a hospital chief broke into a newspaper office in Qingdao , Shandong , on Thursday, beat five reporters and smashed 17 computers after the newspaper published an investigative report on Wednesday exposing wrongdoing at the hospital, the newspaper reported yesterday.

At about 11.20am on Thursday, Zhou Jian, the chief of the Shuguang Men's Hospital in Qingdao, entered the front door of the Metropolis Convenience Daily office, claiming to be a gang leader, a reporter at the newspaper said yesterday. Zhou was accompanied by six thugs brandishing weapons including knives, axes and hammers.

The gang stopped beating editorial staff and smashing computers when they heard police sirens.

They tried to escape but Zhou was detained at the scene.

The other thugs fled in two cars. The newspaper said they were caught on Thursday night.

Five editorial staff were hurt, with one male reporter suffering a knife wound 10cm long and 3cm deep.

Newspaper staff said the attack, which caused damage valued at about 100,000 yuan (HK$116,500), was triggered by a story about high charges at the hospital, questionable medical certificates held by its doctors and improper promotions.

The reporter said the story had been sparked by complaints from patients cheated by the hospital. The paper's hotline has received more than 100 calls complaining about the hospital since Wednesday.

The paper plans to run more stories on the hospital and has asked the health department to intervene.

'It was the first time I've come across such violence in my five-year career as a reporter,' the reporter said. 'The hospital should address the issue in a legal way.

'Journalists are still a marginalised group, and sometimes our proper rights are stamped on by local commercial powers, while we are not protected by law.

'Those of us who still stick to this high-risk career at least harbour some journalistic idealism, as we are not paid very well either.'

The hospital chief was not available for comment yesterday.

An officer at the municipal police station said last night that the case was being investigated.

The newspaper, launched in 2007, has a circulation of about 750,000 copies in Shandong.

Furious patients

The newspaper has received more than this many calls complaining about the hospital since Wednesday: 100