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Officers on trial for fatal street fight

TWO former police officers and an unemployed man involved in a fatal street brawl in Harbin went on trial yesterday in the Heilongjiang Province capital.

All three face charges of assault and battery for their roles in the fight, which led to the death of a 22-year-old man on October 11 last year.

The victim's family and one of the defendants hired heavyweight attorneys for the trial, which was witnessed by local lawmakers, political advisers and government officials.

A team of six attorneys from the biggest law firm in Harbin represented the family of the dead man, Lin Songling, while the dean of Heilongjiang University's law school defended police officer Qi Xin, who allegedly played a major role in the fight.

Qi and another officer, Liu Linan, are accused of beating Lin to death in front of a nightclub.

Yang Sen, one of Lin's friends, allegedly attacked other off-duty police officers who were in the same group, severely injuring two of them.

Prosecutors said Qi and Liu fought with Lin and his friends outside Harbin's Candy Bar only after Lin repeatedly hit the officers.

Qi denied he had beaten Lin to death, insisting the man might have died when he fell while running away. Another source close to the case said Qi's jeans were torn at the knees and his palm was scraped, indicating he had fallen while running at high speed.

But Lin's attorney told reporters Liu admitted seeing Qi kick the victim hard in the head.

Hu Fengbin, an attorney acting on behalf of Lin's family, said the two officers might face the death penalty.

Lin's family reportedly demanded 500,000 yuan (US$73,099) in compensation. But the victim's father said his main desire is to see the two officers "pay with their lives" for his son's death.

The four other officers, Wang Jingang, Li Xinyu, Luan Ao and Li Feng, are not being tried because a surveillance videotape of the fight did not show they contributed to Lin's death. They are on bail. The trial was scheduled to continue today.

In another case involving law enforcement personnel, a police officer in southwest China's Yunnan Province went on trial yesterday for allegedly shooting a civilian to death during a dispute on February 13.

The killing occurred when Ji Zhongchun, 42, who worked for the Mengzi County Public Security Bureau, was backing up his car, and Pan Jun, an employee of a local electricity company, claimed Ji's car scratched his vehicle.

He allegedly assaulted Ji, and the officer shot him, saying he acted in self-defense. Pan's family is demanding 980,000 yuan.


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