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Probe to examine cook's death
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2009-06-25 09:12

Authorities have pledged to launch a thorough investigation into the death of a cook, which caused a riot last weekend in Shishou, Hubei province.

The pledge came as local government officials were working to broker a compensation deal between the Yonglong Hotel and the family of Tu Yuangao, 24, the hotel's cook, who was found dead after a fall from the third floor of the hotel on June 17.

Tu's family refused to let his body be taken away by police for days after authorities allegedly tried to cover up the murder as a suicide.

Thousands of protesters torched the hotel and overturned police cars last weekend to stop the authority from taking the body away. The body was finally taken to a funeral parlor for autopsy after order was restored on Sunday.

"A handful of people have been detained, but I don't know if they will be charged or given detention," an official from Jingzhou publicity office surnamed Xiong, said yesterday.

The government-brokered negotiation on the compensation and cremation of Tu's body is still underway. However, based on a humanitarian concern, the government was willing to add to the final agreed-upon sum as the hotel was facing bankruptcy, according to Xiong.

Ying Daiming, Party secretary of Jingzhou city, which has jurisdiction over Shishou, said the investigation of Tu's case was launched by Jingzhou public security bureau instead of Shishou police, in order to avoid any interference from local officials, a Shishou government spokesperson told cnhubei.com.

Ying reportedly said the police should find out exactly how Tu died - either from homicide or suicide - and the result of the investigation should be made public.

Two autopsies had been conducted on Tu's body by forensic experts from the Ministry of Public Security so far. The first one was completed on June 21, the day that Tu's family agreed to let authorities take the body away. The second autopsy was conducted on Tuesday. Tu's family witnessed both autopsies, according to the Shishou government spokesperson.

Some people believed that the cook was killed by gangsters while others said he was killed by Zhang Yonglong, the owner of the hotel, who was said to be related to the city mayor. However, the hotel was sub-let to three women before Tu's death, according to Zhang's lawyer, who was anonymously quoted by South Metropolitan Daily.

The background of the Yonglong Hotel, which was rumored to be used by drug dealers to distribute illegal substances, was also going to be probed by the investigation team from the Hubei provincial public security department, according to Ying.

Used syringes could be seen on the ground behind the hotel yesterday.

Source:China Daily 
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