Three former police officers were found guilty of abusing a suspect in their custody during Chongqing's "strike black" crackdown on crime three years ago but won't be jailed.
Two of the officers were convicted of intentional injury, and given suspended sentences, while the third, charged with torture, would not be punished, Xinhua reported, citing Dadukou district court.
One Chongqing resident who said he had been tortured during the crackdown called the punishments inappropriate and said it would encourage police to abuse suspects in the future.
Former officer Gou Hongbo was handed a three-year jail sentence, suspended for three years; a second defendant, Dan Bo, received a 2½-year term, suspended for 2½ years. Xinhua named the third defendant, who escaped punishment, as Zheng Xiaolin.
The victim, Lu Jian, was a former president of a cement company, who turned himself in to authorities in 2011 during the crackdown on crime spearheaded by former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai .
Lu was tortured while in custody, authorities found. He was reportedly made to stand with his hands cuffed to a ring in the ceiling above him.
After the fall of Bo and his regime in 2012, Lu went to Beijing to seek justice from authorities, and the officers were arrested in June.
In delivering its verdict, the court said Lu had forgiven the officers. It said Gou led the interrogation but did not directly torture Lu, while Dan had surrendered himself to police, and Zhang's actions had caused little damage.
Xie Suming, who was detained in late 2009 for making online comments critical of the police, said the sentences would not act as a deterrent against further police abuse.
"I don't think such punishments are appropriate," Xie said. "Now police from other areas can learn from this case that they will not be punished seriously."
Additional reporting by Keith Zhai