A village Communist Party chief in China’s southern Hunan province died hours after being taken away for questioning by prosecutors, and his body was covered with injuries, according to his son.
The family believes that Tan Kaihai, 60, the party chief in Xinan village in Qidong County, was beaten to death after being questioned over a village account expense.
On Sept. 15 at about 6:00 p.m., Tan "was working in the field, when someone came and took him away,” said the son, who did not give his name.
“The guy said he was from the Prosecution Office of Qidong County.”
The son said that the family was informed that Tan had died early morning the next day.
“At 4:00 a.m. the next morning, my uncle was woken by a phone call saying that my father was sick and in the emergency room of the hospital. My uncle rushed there, but a high-level cadre told him that my father had died.”
When his uncle tried to view the body, which was then covered by a sheet, officials forcibly restrained him, saying the body was not Tan’s, according to the son.
“We don’t know what happened to my father from the time that he was led away,” he said.
“My elder brother tried to call my father once during the night, but his cell phone had been turned off.”
‘A sudden death’
Tan’s children, who work out of town as migrant laborers, returned home following news of their father’s death, but the Prosecution Office at first blocked family members from viewing the body, he said.
“Finally, after protests by our family, a manager from the Prosecution Office took me to see my father’s body. I saw injuries on his forehead, and the top of his head was swollen. There were bruises below his ears.”
“There were also wounds on his legs, back, and buttocks,” Tan’s son said. “I found a testicular rupture as well.”
“The Prosecution Office said that my father passed away at around 11:00 p.m. on the 15th in what they called a sudden death.”
Tan’s son said he noted that surveillance cameras were mounted at the front gate of the office, and he demanded to see the recording tapes to determine when Tan had been brought to the office and when he was taken out.
“But a prosecutor told me that the cameras were just nonfunctioning ‘dummy equipment’ to show to upper-level management,” he said.
Official denies blame
A phone call on Monday to the Qidong County Prosecution Office was answered by an officer who denied any wrongdoing in Tan’s death.
“A joint investigation team has been set up with officials from the provincial, municipal, and county governments,” the officer said. “It is impossible that the Prosecution Office harmed him.”
Asked about the bruises found on Tan’s body, the officer replied, “The man died from illness. And those so-called bruises are called livor mortis.”
Livor mortis is a condition in which the skin discolors in some areas following death as a result of blood cell destruction.
“[Tan’s] children have no knowledge of forensic science, so they think those marks are from a beating. We are waiting for the results of the autopsy.”
But Tan’ s son said that his family firmly believes that he was beaten to death.
Tan’s son said that his family has vowed to bring their father’s killers to justice. Meanwhile, prosecutors say that they had wanted to question Tan about an expense of 40,000 yuan (U.S. $6,262) on the village’s accounting book.
Photos and postings put up on several websites by Tan’s family had been taken down by Monday, and no lawyer has yet agreed to take their case, Tan’s son said.
Reported for RFA’s Mandarin service by Hong Kong correspondent Fang Yuan. Translated and written in English by Ping Chen.