Chinese police yesterday denied torturing the former head of the country’s soccer association, who was tried this week for match-
fixing and bribe-taking in a scandal that has shocked the nation.
During his Tuesday trial, Xie Yalong (謝亞龍) told a court in the northeastern province of Liaoning that police had tortured him with electric shocks, beat him and doused him with water during interrogation, state press reports said.
Xie, and his successor, Nan Yong (南勇), are the highest officials to be ensnared in a crackdown on match-fixing, gambling and bribery in the sport that has also tainted a bevy of other Chinese Football Association and club officials, referees and players.
“There is absolutely no question of Xie Yalong being tortured to confess,” the Liaoning Public Security Bureau, which oversees the case, said in a statement on its microblog page.
“Xie Yalong and his lawyer, Jin Xiaoguang (金曉光), are trying to confuse the public. There is no factual basis to this whatsoever,” it said.
Liaoning police refused further comment on torture allegations when contacted by Agence France-Presse. Jin also refused to comment on the case.
Coerced confessions are illegal in China, but the practice is reportedly widespread.
Xie, 56, was charged with 12 counts of accepting bribes, which totaled more than 1.7 million yuan (US$273,000), Xinhua news agency reported earlier.
Nan, 49, was tried in the northeastern city of Tieling on Wednesday on 17 counts of taking bribes totalling 1.48 million yuan.
Verdicts in the trials are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Also on Wednesday, four former Chinese internationals were tried for fixing a domestic league match in 2003.
During the match, the players were allegedly paid handsomely to lose a game that decided the eventual league champion, as well as saved another club from relegation.
Exposed two years ago, the soccer graft scandal has combined with the national squad’s poor performance to repel Chinese fans, undermining the popularity of the domestic game in the world’s most populous country.
Earlier this year, the association’s former deputy chief, Yang Yimin (楊一民), was convicted of accepting 1.25 million yuan in bribes from about 20 clubs to fix fitness test results and sentenced to 10 and a half years, state media said.
Zhang Jianqiang (張建), the former director of the association’s referee committee, received a 12-year jail term for taking bribes worth a total of 2.73 million yuan on 24 occasions, reports said.