The chief of police in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan has come under fire amid allegations by a whistle-blowing blogger that his son beat up a traffic cop in front of onlookers, and that local authorities have stopped the news from getting out.
Large numbers of passers-by witnessed Xia Kun's beating at the hands of the driver of a black Honda SUV after he was pulled over on the morning Oct. 13 at the intersection between Yingze Blvd. and Danan Gate, according to a witness who posted an account of the incident to the popular Sina blog platform.
Sources in Taiyuan said that the assailant was Li Zhengyuan, son of Taiyuan police chief Li Yali, and that no investigation was under way, in spite of suspicions that he was driving while drunk and obstructing an officer in the course of duty, said the blogger, who identified himself as "Tiger" Liu Hu.
"There were a lot of people there at the time, watching, but they were very quickly moved on," Liu said in an interview on Thursday. "I later asked a friend of mine, who's a cop, and he said that the guy who beat the pedestrian was seriously well-connected."
"A lot of people still don't dare to speak out about this even now, and I can understand that, because the father of the assailant is really very powerful, and they are afraid of reprisals," he said.
Liu, who quotes "Deep Throat" sources in the Taiyuan police on his blog, said that a colleague of Xia's, Li Zhengyuan, had tried to report the incident to the Taiyuan branch of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
"The Commission for Discipline Inspection didn't dare to take on the case," Liu said, adding that Xia himself had been taken in for questioning, and remained at home under close surveillance.
Surveillance camera footage of the incident had all been deleted, and all branches of Taiyuan's police force were working together to ensure the news didn't get out, he said.
"The whole thing is being dealt with in private," Liu said. "The father of the victim has reached an agreement with the authorities, and the traffic police and regular police are working together to ensure an information blackout."
"But, to my knowledge, the guy who was beaten up hasn't agreed to the conditions, and has lodged a complaint with the traffic police department, which wasn't accepted," he said.
"So it's very hard to gather any evidence," Liu added.
Xia sustained multiple injuries during the attack, but had declined to speak to Liu about the incident, he said.
"Xia was the person it happened to, so if we have no first-hand complaint from him, then we can't pursue it," Liu said. "He has already buckled under pressure, probably with the help of Li Zhengyuan's father."
"Li Yali has already promised him a good job, a promotion, as well as compensation," Liu quoted Taiyuan police sources as saying. "If Xia Kun were to pursue his complaint, it would definitely affect his future career prospects, so he hasn't much choice, really."
Liu said he had blown the whistle on the case out of outrage at the abuse of power in the case, which isn't the first of its kind to be reported in China.
In January 2011, a court in northern China's Hebei province sentenced the son of a high-ranking police officer involved in a hit-and-run road accident to six years in prison in spite of calls for a much harsher punishment after he caused the death of a female student.
Li Qiming's case brought him nationwide notoriety because of his defiant outburst to officials and angry witnesses to the incident: "Go ahead, sue me. My father is Li Gang!" he reportedly told them.
Li's outburst sparked widespread rage and satirical attacks from Chinese netizens. Li Gang was the deputy chief of Baoding's Beishi district police bureau at the time.
And a police officer in the central province of Henan was charged in October 2011 with "endangering public safety" after a car he was driving, allegedly while drunk, crashed, killing five people.
Wang Yinpeng, who heads a police station in Henan's Liangzhu township was formally charged with "endangering public security by dangerous means" after he lost control of his van in an accident in the town on Saturday afternoon.
Liu, whose Sina blog post on the incident was titled "My father is Li Gang, my father is Li Yali," said such abuses of power shouldn't be tolerated.
"If they can use their official power to commit bribery and fraud, and if things carry on this way, then this society will be terrorized," Liu said.
"This is unacceptable."
Reported by Fung Yat-yiu for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.