Uncovering Malpractices by Traffic Police: a Deputy Editor-in-Chief Beaten to Death

By Ke Hua, Radio Free Asia
February 10, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: February 10, 2006 12:00 am

Wu Xianghu, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Taizhou Evening News, recently suffered serious injuries while in police custody. Mr. Wu had been arrested for publishing an investigative article on arbitrary ticketing practices by the police. Thursday morning, February 2, Mr. Wu failed to respond to medical treatment and died of his injuries. He was 42 years old. The only request of Mr. Wu's family is that the police officers responsible be brought to justice. This reporter interviewed his widow on February 3, Friday.

“My husband was treated at Hangzhou City Hospital. He had been in the hospital since the time of his injuries. He was unable to work while hospitalized. Everyone at the hospital knew that his injuries were caused by the police. He died in the hospital on Thursday morning at 11:04,” his wife said.

The Taizhou Evening News is a local government-sponsored publication. In October 2005, the Taizhou Commission for Discipline Inspection investigated charges of arbitrary ticketing practices filed against the non-motor vehicle administration office in the Jiaojiang District. Mr. Wu covered the investigation and published an article titled “When Obtaining License Plates for Motor Vehicles, Traffic Police Arbitrarily Ticket Vehicles.” Before the article was published, it had been approved by the Taizhou Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The day after publication, the Taizhou Evening News was attacked by nearly 40 traffic police officers. Mr. Wu was brutally beaten by the traffic police on the scene. Witnesses reported repeated blows to his waist resulting in fecal incontinence. Police took Mr. Wu into custody, dragged him onto an elevator, and then out of the building.

Prior to publication of the article and subsequent beatings by the police, Mr. Wu had received a liver transplant. He had said that his health had improved significantly after this operation. He returned to work just one month after the transplant. Mr. Wu was highly admired by his colleagues at the newspaper. He was praised for returning to work so quickly. His dedication to his work was said to be a good example for others to follow.

Mr. Wu's death was attributed to multiple organ failure resulting from the police beatings. His new liver was included among the list of damaged organs.

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Wu's colleagues from the newspaper came by his house to pay their last respects. City leaders were also in attendance. Mr. Lu, Mr. Wu's colleague of the newspaper, promised Mrs. Wu that the newspaper would pay all medical bills. “We were not prepared for his unexpected death,” Mr. Lu said.

The leaders of the police officers responsible for Mr. Wu's death never attended the funeral.

“My only hope is that justice will prevail and that the police officers responsible for my husband's death will be tried and punished. I have no other request as his family member. Nothing will bring my husband back. My only hope is that with justice served, my husband will be at peace,” said Mrs. Wu.