A news reporter with Luoyang TV in Henan province was found stabbed to death early Monday morning, sparking fears that he may have been targeted for his investigative reports.
Li Xiang, 30, was on his way home after a late-night karaoke session with friends when he was stabbed at least 10 times near an estate where he lived, The Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday.
There has been public speculation that Li may have been killed because of the stories he was investigating. His last post on the Weibo microblogging site was a link to a story on Dahe.cn about 'gutter oil' - illegally reprocessed waste cooking oil, usually taken from leftover dishes at restaurants.
A security guard at the estate told the Zhengzhou Evening News that he had heard someone calling for help to fend off a robbery, but when he rushed to the scene, Li was lying on the ground bleeding.
A police officer at the scene told The Southern Metropolis News that the attack was so vicious that it was unlikely to have been the result of a simple robbery. Police said Li's computer was stolen.
A Luoyang city police spokesman said yesterday that the Xigong district police had set up a special taskforce to investigate the killing. At the end of its prime-time news programme on Monday night, Luoyang TV appealed to the public to come forward with any information on the killing. Calls to the TV station went unanswered yesterday.
In the Dahe.cn report, published last Thursday - the same day Li posted it - authorities in Luanchuan county, under the jurisdiction of Luoyang, were accused of turning a blind eye to leads about rogue businessmen producing the toxic waste oil in the county.
A county committee in charge of food safety said they had followed up on the leads, but had found nothing illegal.
The Ministry of Public Security announced last week that it had busted a syndicate trafficking waste cooking oil in Zhejiang, Shandong and Henan provinces. Some 32 people were arrested.
The price of waste cooking oil, in Hong Kong dollars, per tonne. After reprocessing, it can be sold for up to HK$20,000 per tonne