Caixin
Jan 10, 2011 11:38 AM

Grisly Road Death Leaves Village in Disbelief

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Official reports say former Zhaiqiao village chief Qian Yunhui died accidentally while crossing a road. But villagers say he died December 25 after being forced by five police officers to lie in front of a rolling truck.

Photos allegedly from the scene that have been circulating on the Internet show a man's torso positioned beneath a truck wheel and beside a severed head.

Qian, leader of the Zhejiang Province village until 2004, once drew controversy for spearheading a campaign against government officials who allegedly expropriated land from farmers illegally. He served three jail terms for leading petition drives against the takeover of more than 140 hectares of farmland.

Witnesses say more than 50 armed police officers were deployed at the Qian death scene and clashed with villagers. Hundreds of people gathered within 10 minutes of the death, prompting the police deployment, they said.

A photo used in the investigation of the grisly incident was issued by the Wenzhou City Public Security Bureau.

"Where is the God?" cried one villager. "Qian was murdered by someone," said another, while a third villager waved a stick and shouted, "Let's get revenge for our village chief!"

Qian's son Qian Chengxu said he was among those gathered at the chaotic scene. He told Caixin he saw his father's body, knelt on the ground and cried. Also at the scene was the widow, Wang Zhaoyan, who cried until she fainted.

The public security bureau for the city of Wenzhou said villagers chased and attacked police who had arrived to the scene to investigate Qian's death. Relatives of the victim and some villagers tried to obstruct the investigation, a bureau statement said.

Qian's friends indeed tried to block the scene to prevent the body's removal, the son said. "Villagers surrounded my father's corpse and didn't let police move it."

But police moved in. "Police with batons beat people everywhere," said a witness.

Among those arrested were Qian's relatives. The corpse was taken to a city funeral home by police and cremated immediately.

An uproar in the village ensued. Rumors, exaggerations and near panic gripped the villagers. Some fled the community.

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