Fears grew over the fate of three detained mainland human rights lawyers yesterday after another colleague held with them was released and reported being beaten while in custody.
Zhang Junjie , one of the four lawyers detained on March 21 while investigating the illegal detention of Falun Gong members in Jiansanjiang, Heilongjiang , was released in the early hours of Thursday morning and posted a gruelling account online yesterday of his ordeal in custody.
After a medical examination, he told the South China Morning Post that three of his ribs had been fractured.
Zhang said he was unable to speak freely as he had been summoned by his local justice bureau in Zhengzhou in Henan province. But he confirmed that the details written online were true.
Zhang said in his account that he and three other lawyers - Jiang Tianyong , Tang Jitian and Wang Cheng - were dragged from their hotel on March 21 and taken to a police station where they were interrogated separately.
During the interrogation, police officers slapped him across the face seven or eight times before pouring water over his head, he wrote. He was then knocked over, beaten and kicked for several minutes. The next day, Zhang was placed in administrative detention for five days for "gambling".
The three others were placed in administrative detention for 15 days. Jiang and Tang were accused of "using cult activities to endanger society". It is unclear what Wang was accused of.
Fellow human rights lawyers yesterday expressed fears that the three detained lawyers had also been severely beaten.
Lawyer Li Fangping said a man who had shared a cell with Wang, but was later released, said he had seen Wang beaten with a leather shoe. Wang's father has been told by police to travel to Heilongjiang to see him. His wife has also been put under police surveillance.
Such developments made Wang's circumstances even more worrying, Li said.
A member of staff at the Qixing public security bureau in Jiansanjiang put the phone down yesterday as soon as a reporter asked after the lawyers.