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Family claims son was beaten to death by police

PROSECUTORS in northwestern China's Shaanxi Province are investigating the death of a 19-year-old high school student after his family said he was fatally beaten by police during an eight-day interrogation.

Xu Gengrong, a senior student in Shangluo City's Danfeng County, was taken in for questioning by police on February 28 as the chief suspect in the murder of Peng Lina, a junior female student at Xu's school. Peng was found murdered on February 10, police told the Chinese Business View.

Xu's family and fellow students lost contact with him after he was picked up, and on March 8 police announced he had died, the Xi'an-based newspaper reported yesterday.

Danfeng County police said Xu had confessed to Peng's murder on March 1 and he was immediately detained. On March 8, he suddenly became short of breath and his pulse weakened while he was being questioned, authorities said. He was then sent to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Xu's family did not believe the explanation. Higher-level prosecutors were called in, and an autopsy was performed on March 9 and witnessed by three of Xu's relatives. The results will be released in 10 days.

Witnesses told the newspaper there were bruises across the youth's body and blood in his nose. Medical examiners reportedly told them that the marks indicated the teen had been severely beaten.

Danfeng police director Yan Yaofeng told the newspaper that the police had substantial proof of Xu's involvement before detaining him. Their case was not based solely on Xu's confession, authorities said. The police said Xu and Peng had been lovers and Peng's murder could have been motivated by rape or revenge.

The family said the police refused to show them evidence of Xu's involvement and claimed the police beat the youth to make him confess.

Another student, Wu Ming, said he had been beaten by police during his 50-hour interrogation. He was not allowed to sleep during the questioning.

The newspaper said Xu's family had agreed to a compensation package with Danfeng County and received 120,000 yuan (US$17,548).


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