Tag Archives: Police Brutality

The Curious Case of Wang Yahui

Readers of ESWN may already be familiar with the name Wang Yahui, perhaps the first man ever to have been killed by a glass of water. The story in brief as translated by ESWN:

Wang's Grief-stricken family

According to the Lushan county public security bureau, the young man named Wang Yahui was taken away on suspicion of theft on February 18. On February 21, the police interrogated Wang at the detention center. “At the time, he said that he was thirsty. The police poured some boiled water for him, but it was too hot. Meanwhile another policeman was drinking water mixed with cold medicine and offered the mixed drink to Wang. When Wang drank this mixed, he reacted badly both physically and psychologically. He was quickly taken to the hospital where he died.”

Wang’s family was notified. They went to the hospital morgue and saw Wang’s body. They found multiple wounds on the body. The photos showed bruises and wounds on his back and arms. There was a hole in his head. His nipple was cut cut. Even his penis showed injury signs. This raised many questions with the family. “The public security bureau told us that he was healthy while in the detention center. He was healthy while he was interrogated. But after the interrogation, he experienced a sudden stomach ache and then he died.”

The Lunshan county public security bureau chief said that the police officers in charge of the case are suspected of committing a crime while on duty. He said: “If they committed a crime while on duty, the procuratorate will definitely set up a case for investigation.” He also said that the four police officers have been detained.

Wang’s family are working with the police to determine the real cause of death.

The real cause of death? I’m no doctor, but if pressed, I think I would go with hole in the head. I hear the head is one of those parts of the body we ought to keep from being punctured.

Lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan has also commented on the case:

A reporter asked me: “Wang Yahui drank water and died, but his whole body was covered in scars, could this be another case of ‘hide-and-seek’*?”
I said: Wang Yahui had only been with the police for three days, and as soon as he has to appear in court he suddenly gets ill and dies, the corse is covered in scars, there is a hole in his head, his nipples are cut off, his penis is scarred; he was obviously beaten to death by them, he didn’t just die of a cold!”

When the police send criminals to jail before their court appearances, they must undergo a physical examination. If, after the police arrested Wang Yahui, they beat him black and blue, the jail would normally write this down in his physical report, because they would fear having to take responsibility. As his whole body was covered in injuries, we can see there’s a possibility Wang Yahui was beaten by the other criminals in his cell.

But what can’t be explained is, if he was beaten by his cellmates, the police handling the case would likely react similarly [and report the beating] before the court date. Otherwise, the police would fear the jail putting responsibility for the man’s death on their shoulders. Of course, this is just [speculation] based on what usually happens.

Liu Xiaoyuan goes on to say that the matter should thus be simple to resolve if the police and the jail can be forced to produce their records. But he notes:

After last year’s ‘hide-and-seek’* case, the highest people’s procuratorate and the PSB began an investigation into the entire nation’s jails, and it seemed as if [the problem] was being taken seriously enough. What makes people hopeless is that this watchdog work hasn’t accomplished what it should, with the result that this kind of bizarre death often occurs.

Wang Yahui — who, oddly enough, shares the exact same given name I was assigned by my first-year Chinese teacher in college — obviously wasn’t killed by a glass of water. And as Liu Xiaoyuan points out, had he been killed by his fellow prisoners, it would make sense that someone would have reported that, if for no other reason than to save their own skin. That no one did indicates what everyone was already assuming: he was killed, probably during torture, by the police. Why? He was suspected of stealing sometime.

He is survived by his two children, ages four and two.

*”Hide-and-seek” refers to a famous case from last year where a prisoner in a police station died, and the police reported that he had died running into a wall while playing hide-and-seek. Netizens, and many other people who heard this news were, needless to say, pretty skeptical.