Top forensic scientist Wang Xuemei resigns over standards of evidence presented to trials

Outspoken critic of evidence presented to Neil Heywood's inquest says her colleagues' unprofessional conduct has pushed her to the brink

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 11:47am

A leading forensic scientist who criticised findings of the investigation into the death of Briton Neil Heywood has resigned after making similar remarks over evidence presented in the case of a 20-year-old student who died on the Beijing Metro three years ago.

Wang Xuemei, 57, resigned from the Chinese Forensic Medicine Association, of which she was vice-president, on Saturday, just as a trial over the Metro death was about to start.

In a video posted online, she said she felt "disappointed" with the professional conduct of the mainland's forensic medical community but felt obliged to step down as she "could not change the current situation".

In 2010, Ma Yue, a 20-year-old university student, fell to his death from the platform of Beijing's Gulou Dajie subway station. Ma's mother, Meng Zhaohong, was unhappy with the inquest's findings that her son had "died of abrupt termination of breath and heartbeat from a high-pressure electric shock", without providing additional information.

She is suing the Xicheng district government for an undisclosed amount for its misconduct in the inquest. The hearing opens today.

Wang, a forensic scientist with the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said the forensic conclusion given by the association in Ma's case was "ridiculous and irresponsible".

Video: Wang Xuemei explains her resignation

Wang said in her video that, although she had no access to evidence presented by the police, her years of experience convinced her that the cause of Ma's death was not the same as the authorities claimed. Wang did not return phone calls yesterday.

Meng Zhaohong said Wang had told her that she would not comment on her resignation at this stage.

"We just want to find the truth of my son's death," Meng said.

Meng was "not optimistic" about her trial today as she had hard time dealing with authorities over the past three years.

Meng demanded that the Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Corporation, which runs the network, show her surveillance footage of the day her son died.

But a 10-minute section of footage on August 23, 2010, was automatically deleted by the computer system and could not be recovered, an investigation team told Meng in November.

Wang was the only senior forensic official to query the government's initial statements on the death Heywood, a business associate of the Bo family, at a Chongqing hotel room in 2011.

Last August, Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced political star Bo Xilai, was convicted of using cyanide to kill Heywood.

Wang argued that if Heywood had indeed been killed by cyanide, forensic experts sent to the scene would have immediately noticed obvious symptoms such as discolouration of the corpse.

This would have made it impossible for four subordinates of Wang Lijun, Chongqing's former police chief, to disguise it as a drinking-related death, Wang Xuemei said. In her blog published after Gu's trial, she suggested that Heywood could have been suffocated.