Chinese Woman Said
Beaten To Death In Police
Custody For Falun
Gong Beliefs
BEIJING (Agence France Presse) - A woman who refused to stop practicing the banned Chinese sect Falungong has been beaten to death while in police custody, according to a report posted on the group's Internet website.
Zhao Jinhua, 42, died on October 7 at a police station in the town of Zhangxing in the northeastern Chinese province of Shandong.
A police spokesman in Zhangxing confirmed Zhao's death but declined to comment on the cause, which he said was under investigation.
"It's not clear how she died," said the officer who identified himself only by his surname Zhang. "We didn't arrest her, We just brought her in for education."
However, an Internet report filed by a Falungong investigator who traveled to the town recently said Zhao had been tortured to death.
"She was tortured at least with police electric clubs and rubber clubs and electrified with old-style rotary telephones," wrote the Chinese investigator, whose name was withheld for his own protection.
"The police repeatedly asked if she would continue to practice Falungong and she always answered 'yes.' Her skin was broken all over her body except on her face."
The investigator had recently been to the village of Zhaojia where Zhao lived, New York-based Falungong spokeswoman Gail Rachlin told AFP by e-mail.
The man spoke to Zhao's brother and was told by the brother that an autopsy report showed Zhao died from blunt trauma and had deposited blood covering a large part of her body.
Zhao, a farmer who began practicing Falungong in 1995, was arrested on September 27 while she was working in the fields.
Her family was not allowed to see her until October 8 when they were called into the police station and told of her death.
They found her body covered with bruises. Police warned Zhao's family members to not discuss her death and cremated her body the next day.
Zhao's brother told the Falungong investigator he was afraid of speaking further for fear of retaliation. ((c) 1999 Agence France Presse)