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Deadly sex story puts 2 bloggers in court

THE widow of the late Chinese film director Xie Jin has filed a libel lawsuit against twin-brother bloggers for claiming her husband died while having sex with a prostitute.

Xie's widow, Xu Dawen, is seeking 500,000 yuan (US$73,206) in compensation from the defendants and a public apology, saying she has suffered severe mental anguish. The suit was accepted yesterday by the Jing'an District People's Court in Shanghai.

Xie, who lived in the city, was one of China's most respected film directors. His most famous works include "The Red Detachment Of Women," "Legend of Tianyun Mountain" and "Hibicus Town," all of which won national film awards.

On the morning of October 18, 2008, the 85-year-old director was found dead from a heart attack in a hotel in Shangyu City, Zhejiang Province. He arrived in Shangyu, his home town, on the previous day to attend the 100th anniversary of the middle school where he studied.

But controversy ensued when celebrity-scandal blogger Song Zude posted an item saying that a witness heard a young woman's voice and Xie "wheezing" on the morning of his death.

Song wrote that Xie had called a prostitute and died during sex at the Shangyu International Hotel. The alleged witness was Song's twin brother, Liu Xinda, who said he was in the room next to Xie's. (Liu has changed his family name.)

In a later blog, Liu claimed he used his cell phone to record Xie bargaining with the prostitute.

Subsequent news reports carried angry quotes from Xie fans who were upset by the Internet postings.

"The defendants aim to promote themselves by bespattering celebrities," Xu, 83, said in the lawsuit. "They should be punished by the law."

The plaintiff provided the court with hotel surveillance tapes that showed no one entered Xie's room between the time a waitress left about 9pm on October 17 and until he was found dead.

The registration record provided by the hotel showed that Liu was not in a room next door.

In addition, medical reports put Xie's death at around 1am, an hour before the defendants claimed Xie was having sex with a prostitute, according to the lawsuit.


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