Mon, Apr 20, 2009 - Page 5 News List

China vows prison death probe

PUBLIC ANGER Of 15 suspicious deaths, seven people had been beaten to death, three had been classified as suicides, two as accidents and three were undetermined

AFP , BEIJING

Stricter monitoring measures are being introduced in Chinese jails after at least 15 people died in unusual circumstances this year alone, state media reported yesterday.

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate said about half of the detainees were beaten to death, blaming inadequate supervision of police and negligence by prosecutors, the Beijing Times reported.

Of the 15 reported cases, seven had died of beatings, three were classified as suicides and two were described as accidents, officials said in a videoconference call on Friday, the report said.

The three remaining cases were still being investigated, it said.

Prosecutors were told that some of the deaths could have been prevented had they done their jobs properly, the report said.

China’s public security ministry has launched a three-month investigation into conditions in detention centers in response to mounting public anger over the recent deaths, including those of three teenagers.

A public security ministry conference last week was told procurate officials would supervise the installation of improved camera monitoring systems in all detention centers and that they must be operating by Sept. 30, the report said.

The systems would allow legal officials to directly monitor what goes on, the report said.

Earlier this month, Xinhua news agency reported that a drug addict serving a 10-day sentence was found comatose in his cell and died in hospital in the southeast city of Fuzhou.

Days before Liu Yushan (劉玉山), 35, died “suddenly” of possible heart problems in a Foshan city jail in Guangdong Province. Another detainee died in the same city last month after he “fell off his bed and hurt his head,” Xinhua reported.

Prosecutors have also accused police of torturing a teenager to death last month in Shanxi Province while trying to extract a confession, state media said.

Reports have also surfaced of two youths who died recently at a juvenile detention center in central Hunan Province. Their parents have said large open wounds on their bodies suggested they were victims of police brutality.

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