Sentence In Villager’s Suspicious Death Doesn’t Satisfy Skeptics

The driver of a truck which ran over a rural activist in Zhejiang, sparking online outrage, has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison. As Josh Chin writes on the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog, many in China are not convinced:

The case this time revolves around the death of Qian Yunhui, a rural activist in the Zhejiang province city of Yueqing who was crushed under the wheels of a truck last month. Police proclaimed the death an accident, but many of Qian’s supporters said they suspected murder, noting among other issues that he had died on the same road he and others had earlier blocked in protest of the building of a power plant. Fury over the incident spread across China’s Internet, fueled by horrifically gruesome photos and video of Mr. Qian’s corpse.

A court in Yueqing city on Tuesday sentenced the driver of the truck, Fei Yuliang, to three-and-a-half years in prison, according to a report in the state-run Xinhua news agency that was confirmed by Mr. Fei’s lawyer. The sentence is consistent with local authorities’ contention that Mr. Qian’s death was an accident, but it left many observers in China unconvinced.

Adding to the controversy is video footage—aired on state-run CCTV Tuesday—that is purported to have been recovered from a mini camera in Mr. Qian’s wristwatch, and that local police say proves the activist was not murdered.

And Tom Lasseter of McClatchy writes on his blog:

Hundreds of Chinese Internet users posted their thoughts within an hour of a broadcast on state TV. The comments, almost all of which revolved around the idea that the video was a fake, began to pour in so quickly that it was hard to keep up. Their tone was striking:

“Sorry, but we already don’t trust the government,” said a user in Henan Province.

The video, said a poster from Guangdong Province, seemed designed to “make fools of us all. Do you think all people are 3-year-olds?”

An apparent bit of sarcasm from Shandong Province: “It is just a normal traffic accident. I believe it now! Thank the party, thank the country”

From Inner Mongolia: “A million zeroes is only a group of zeroes, but if there is a ’1′ in front of them, the number will have meaning. A few hundred million farmers who have lost their land is not a group of zeroes who can be ignored. History will add a ’1′ in front of those at a proper time.”

Watch the CCTV footage of the accident.

Read more about the Qian Yunhui case via CDT.

February 1, 2011 1:32 PM
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