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China policeman charged after detainee's death

Written by: Staff

BEIJING, Sep 11 (Reuters) China, hit by a series of high-profile police scandals, has charged a police officer with negligence for the death of a detainee after nearly 21 hours of interrogation, state media said today.

Human rights groups have long accused Chinese police, who are effectively controlled by the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party, of overreaching their power, arbitrary arrests, illegal imprisonment, torture and corruption.

Reports of policemen being punished for rights abuses are relatively rare, although they are becoming more frequent.

In April 2005, a man who spent 11 years in jail for murdering his wife was freed after the woman turned up alive.

She Xianglin later said he had confessed to the crime under torture, sparking widespread public outrage.

The victim in the latest case, Tan Gangshan from Wenling in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, was detained in July last year when he looked ''suspicious'' riding a motorcycle with another man, the Beijing News said.

The officer, surnamed Xie, put a motorcycle helmet on Tan's head, handcuffed him to a window and shackled his ankles after Tan became fretful during questioning, the newspaper said.

It did not specify what crime Tan was suspected of.

He died of acute heart and lung failure triggered by swelling of the liver after being held for almost 21 hours, the newspaper said.

It did not say if Tan had been tortured, but Zhejiang media said last week that injuries were found on his head and legs, he had been kept standing throughout the detention and had been allowed no food.

''Body wounds, fatigue, starvation, high temperature and mental stress have contributed to his death alongside diseases he already had,'' the official Xinhua news agency quoted an autopsy report as saying.

Beijing News said Wenling police had now paid 207,000 yuan (26,000 dollars) to Tan's family in compensation.

''As a state organ personnel, Xie failed to properly carry out his duties and brought huge losses to people's interests,'' it quoted the prosecution as saying, ''His criminal liabilities should be pursued.'' Reuters DKB VP1002

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