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November 25, 2009

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Police jailed over torture death

FOUR police officers were jailed by a northwest China court yesterday over the death of a student, 19, in custody.

They were involved in torturing Xu Gengrong, a high school student from Danfeng County, Shaanxi Province, leading to his death on March 8, the court said.

Xu was under detention for the suspected murder of a schoolgirl.

Yan Yaofeng, former head of the Public Security Bureau of Danfeng County, was jailed for two years for power abuse, the People's Court of Shangnan County said on its Website.

Zhao Shuo, political instructor of the bureau's criminal police squad, and policeman Jia Yangang were given terms of 2 1/2 and 1 1/2 years for extorting a confession by torture.

Li Hongwei, a policeman of the Public Security Bureau of Shangluo City, was jailed for a year with a one-year reprieve for the torture, the court said.

Wang Qingbao, a former discipline chief of the county police bureau, was accused of dereliction of duty but was exempted from a criminal penalty.

Xu died in hospital after suddenly falling ill while in custody.

Police said Xu, who had been detained since February 28, confessed to the murder.

All five officers were removed from posts after Xu's death.

They were variously charged with abuse of power, dereliction of duty and obtaining a confession by torture.

An investigation by the court uncovered attempts to modify evidence before they were arrested over Xu's death.

A conference minute by some police officers of Danfeng County over the interrogation of Xu for the murder of Peng Lina, 19, a schoolmate and his ex-girlfriend, was doctored, prosecutors said.

However, the original version was later discovered during the investigation.

Xu died after "eight days of nonstop questioning," said Ji Junying, chief of the county's prosecutors office.

Xu was taken into police custody on February 28 as a major suspect in the murder of Peng, who was found dead on a river bank on February 10. The Denfeng government has compensated Xu's family with 120,000 yuan (US$17,571).

Seven police officers were initially arrested over Xu's death.


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