Retired official who reported corruption died suspiciously
A retired official in south China was found dead in a bathroom while he was held in detention on September 26. The authorities announced it was a suicide and tried to cremate his body immediately, but his family thought otherwise.
Wang Zhongping, 60, was the chief director of the Bureau of Animal Husbandry and Fishery of the city of Loudi, Hunan province until two years ago when he stepped down from the post to take up a secondary job within the bureau. In April, he retired from the post. In January, he reported to the city’s Commission for Discipline Inspection, using his real name as opposed to anonymity adopted by most whistleblowers, that his successor, Huang Jianming, had pocketed several million dollars’ worth of public funds, resulting in a great loss of state-owned assets.
In May, only a few months after Wang blew the whistle, he was investigated by the anti-graft commission for violating party disciplines. On August 23, Wang was subjected to a unique Chinese adiministrative procedure known as shuanggui, or “double regulation”, meaning that he had been held in custody by the commission at a time and a place both “regulated”, that is, designated by the Party for interrogation and would not be released until a decision is made on whether to press formal charges against them.
Strangulation marks on Wang Zhongping’s neck
His niece kept crying after seeing his body in the morgue.
According to the police, at around 4:30 p.m. on September 26, Wang was discovered by them to have hanged himself while taking a shower in the bathroom. He was rushed to the emergency room by an ambulance at 5 p.m. and pronounced dead at 7:03 p.m. by the hospital staff.
However, Wang’s family was not notified of his death until nearly eight hours later. His body had also been transferred to the morgue without consent from any of them.
When Wang’s family arrived, they found multiple bruises clearly visible on his arms, legs and back. Deep strangulation marks could also been seen on his neck. His family was convinced that Wang’s death was a murder.
On the morning of September 27, more than a dozen people were dispatched from Loudi’s Discipline Inspection Commission to try to forcefully take Wang’s body away from the morgue for cremation, only to be met with strong opposition from all members of Wang’s family. By the evening of September 27, several local media had used the official press release, saying that Wang died by suicide.
Huang Jianming, who was accused by Wang of embezzling public funds, is still in office as the new head of Loudi’s Animal Husbandry and Fishery Bureau, whereas the informant had been held in custody since the end of August.
Most netizens also seem to believe that it is a murder instead of a suicide, with a few exceptions who claimed the “bruises” are in fact only normal livor mortis, or postmortem lividity. One exclaimed, “During Shuanggui procedure, they torture (suspects) to death! Never buy the version in those movies!” Another chimed in, “Inspectors, you guys are as fierce as Japanese bandits!” Another lamented, “Anyone understands that better a live coward than a dead hero. But he really had to die.”
However, many thought Wang must have also been involved in corruption and thus deserved to die. One user wrote, “This is called what goes around comes around. He was rather comfortable when he was corrupt, but eventually he did not die in his bed.”
Some are convinced that things much worse could have happened had he not died in this fashion, “His wife should have been happy. If he hadn’t died, his case would have implicated the entire family.”
But others think he could have survived, “If he had gone to the U.S. embassy to seek refuge, he wouldn’t have died,” alluding to the fact that in a highly publicized political scandal that took place about eight months ago, Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing, walked into the U.S. consulate in Chengdu and turned to American diplomats for help after he felt his life might be in danger as a result of falling out with his patron, Bo Xilai.
Strangulation marks on Wang Zhongping’s neck.
Bruises on Wang’s back.
Bruises on Wang’s leg.
Wang Zhongping, 60, in a glass coffin.
Wang’s wife, left, has been overwhelmed with grief.
Wang’s families congregate at the entrance of the morgue to stop his body from being taken away and cremated.
The Loudi police stationed near the morgue.