Official's death reveals rare details of torture in Party's extra-judicial investigations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 September, 2013, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 September, 2013, 4:10pm

Six Communist Party investigators are expected to stand trial soon in Zhejiang province on charges relating to the death of a Communist Party member during a disciplinary probe earlier this year.

The charges filed against the six investigators relate to the death of Yu Qiyi, the 42-year-old chief engineer of the state-owned Wenzhou Industry Investment Group, in the early morning hours of April 9. The six – five employees of the Wenzhou Party Discipline Inspection Commission and one loan officer from the local prosecutor’s office – are accused of torturing him by repeatedly putting his head into a bucket of ice water during questioning shortly before he died, according to the indictment shared by the prosecution with Yu’s relatives.

The trial has offered a rare insight into the obscure work of party discipline investigators, who can detain suspects without judicial oversight for an unlimited period of time under shuanggui, an abbreviation used to identify a clause in the party’s regulations that requires members to explain their offences at a specific time and venue.

Yu’s widow said she saw her husband for the last time alive at Beijing’s airport on March 1, when he saw her off on a flight home to Wenzhou. Days later, she received a phone call from his company informing her that Yu has been placed under shuanggui for suspected discipline violations. “They didn’t say how long it would take, they didn’t let me see him, they only said we shouldn’t make a fuss about it,” she said.

On April 9, she was informed that her husband had died an “accidental death”.

The family launched an online campaign spreading photos of Yu’s battered and bruise-ridden body on Sina Weibo, which ultimately forced prosecutors to investigate the death. A later autopsy showed that he died of respiratory failure. The six party investigators were detained on May 15 and formally arrested a month later.

Family lawyer Wu Pengbin said he expected the trial to take place within two weeks. “They want to get this over with as quickly as possible,” he said.

Wu said the prosecution has refused to share the trial’s files with the family.

While Yu’s widow welcomed the trial, but she said the indictment wasn’t enough, because it didn’t hold more people accountable and did not address the bruises that covered his corpse. She said that contrary to what the prosecution stated in the indictment, the family has not been consulted before the charges were filed.

Some 160,000 people were investigated by the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection last year, party officials said at a press conference in January.