Police in Henan province yesterday made a public apology for failing to detect a sex-slave scandal which has sparked a panic over public safety.
Guo Congbin, director of the public security bureau of Luoyang city in Henan, told a press conference that four district police officials had been suspended from duty for negligence, Xinhua reported.
The scandal erupted on Thursday when the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis News reported that a quality-control worker had kept six young women locked in his basement as sex slaves for almost two years and had killed two of them.
Guo admitted the scandal indicated community safety patrols were too weak and that police officers had lost their sense of responsibility.
'As police chief, I bear responsibility,' Guo was quoted by Xinhua as saying. He said a city-wide crackdown would clean up beauty parlours, karaoke halls, saunas and internet cafes, and an 'online cleansing' campaign against pornography would leave no 'dirty spots'.
'I beg the people of Luoyang to give us another chance. We will show you the results of our actions.'
A statement issued by Luoyang police on Friday confirmed most of the newspaper's report. However, Ji Xuguang, the reporter who covered the story, was harassed by two local officials in Luoyang. They accused him of 'infringing state secrets' as exposing the crime would jeopardise the city's bid for recognition as one of 'China's civilised cities'.
Ji yesterday said that the public apology made by Luoyang police was a 'victory for public opinion'.
'My report just opened a small hole into the scandal and let the public see into it, because the people of Luoyang have a right to know what happened in their midst,' Ji said.
Although police confirmed a 34-year-old suspect, Li Hao, had been detained on September 3, the harassment of Ji stirred up more anger over the authorities' reluctance to release information to the public. Guo admitted the police had not co-operated as well as they should have with the media, Xinhua reported.
The police statement said Li, who was married with a son, had forced six women held as 'sex slaves' into prostitution and to appear in pornographic videos, which he uploaded to the internet and profited from. The women were held for between two months and 21 months, it added.
Two women who fought back were tortured and eventually killed, the statement added.
The bodies were found on September 3 when police raided the basement, acting on a tip-off from a relative of another victim who had escaped. Police also detained the four survivors on suspicion of involvement in a crime for helping Li murder the other two women as they competed to stay alive.Topics: Xinhua Henan Luoyang Cities Along the Silk Road