05/14/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Lawyers beaten and arrested for inquirying into the death of a Falun Gong member

The two Beijing attorneys were guests of the family of Jiang Xiqing, 66, who died in detention. The authorities claim he died of a heart attack; the family says the official version is full of inaccuracies.
Chongqing (AsiaNews/CHRD) – Lawyers Zhang Kai and Li Chunfu were beaten by a group of police officers from the Jiangjin District Public Security Bureau in Chongqing and taken away in handcuffs. Their current whereabouts are unknown. The two were in Chongqing to meet with the family of Jiang Xiqing, a 66-year old Falun Gong practitioner who died suddenly while in Chongqing's Xishanping laogai (Re-education-through-Labour) camp.

Zhang and Li had arrived at the home of Jiang’s brother-in-law on the morning of 13 May and were there for approximately two hours before two police officers arrived to question them.

In the afternoon, a group of more than 20 officers, including officials from the National Security Unit under the Jiangjin PSB, arrived at the home, demanding that Zhang and Li produce their identification cards.

When the lawyers, who were carrying their lawyers’ licences and passports, were unable to produce their personal ID cards, the officers threw them to the ground, beat and handcuffed them, and then took to a waiting police truck. Jiang’s son, Jiang Hongbin, was also taken away by the officers.

Zhang and Li, from Beijing’s Zhengtai Law Firm, are representing Jiang’s children in a lawsuit they are bringing against laogai camp authorities whom they suspect are withholding information about their father’s death.

Jiang Xiqing was taken from his home on 14 May 2008, a day after police had seized his wife, who was eventually sentenced to a year of (forced) labour camp.

Jiang’s family however was never officially notified of his detention. Eventually they were able to discover that he had been sentenced to a year in a camp, from 25 June 2008 until 26 June 2009.

On 2 January of this year, family members visited Jiang and reported that he was in good health. A few weeks later, on 28 January, he was dead.

Camp officials claim that Jiang died of a sudden heart attack.

However, family members, who say Jiang had no history of heart disease, are asking why officials failed to inform the family when Jiang was sent to the hospital shortly before he was pronounced dead.

They also point out that Jinag’s death certificate contains factual inaccuracies.

For this and other reasons they doubt the accuracy of official version of events.

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