Chongqing police face web rumours that fugitive Zhou Kehua isn't dead

Internet gossip claims man gunned down by Chongqing police may not have been serial robber and multiple murderer Zhou Kehua

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, 4:39am


Police in Chongqing have been hard pressed to clarify mounting rumours surrounding their gunning down of suspected multiple killer and serial robber Zhou Kehua .

Controversy about the case of Zhou, who was suspected of at least 10 murders during his eight years on the run, continues a week after Chongqing police shot him dead.

For days, the city's police have faced criticism from internet users for refusing to release full-frontal pictures that positively identify Zhou's body. This has fuelled more rumours, the latest being that the man who died in the Chongqing alley in the early morning gun battle with two police officers was not Zhou.

On Monday, a set of three photos appeared online featuring a dead man with a gunshot wound to the head who looked very much like Zhou, offering hope that this would quash the speculative frenzy. The pictures, which appeared to have been taken during an autopsy, were even carried by media outlets.

However, Chongqing police denied releasing the photos and would not confirm whether the man pictured was Zhou, The Shanghai Evening Post reported yesterday. The report added that it was not common practice for public security officials to release pictures from autopsy reports.

Repeated calls from the South China Morning Post to the Chongqing Public Security Bureau's propaganda department went unanswered.

Over the weekend, a string of analyses of objects found at the scene where Zhou was gunned down and diagrams comparing facial features of the dead with Zhou filled internet forums and microblog postings. Some online users said the man gunned down was in fact an undercover officer from Changsha , Hunan province, who they claimed looked taller and more well built than Zhou, who was described by police as thin.

The public also continued to question why police would not release the results of forensic ballistic studies, DNA tests and surveillance camera footage taken when Zhou was shot. They also questioned why Chongqing police continued to search the area around Gele Mountain where Zhou reportedly hid.

Chongqing police have repeatedly stated that the dead man was "undoubtedly Zhou" and the search at the mountain was to prevent a forest fire, but this has done little to put curious internet users' minds to rest.

Zhou hit national headlines earlier this month when he apparently claimed his 10th victim, a railway police officer, after robbing and killing a bank customer in Chongqing's Shapingba district. Zhou was blamed for a number of armed robberies in Chongqing, Changsha and Nanjing over the past eight years. A manhunt launched by public security authorities involved more than 10,000 police.