Yu Qiyi drowning: China party investigators jailed over killing

File photo: Yu Qiyi poses for a photo at an exhibition held at a hotel in Beijing, 2 September 2012 Yu Qiyi was detained for internal investigations by the party in March

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Six Communist Party officials in China have been sentenced to between four and 14 years in jail for torturing another official to death.

The verdicts, delivered by a court in the eastern city of Quzhou, were not reported by Chinese state media.

But Pu Zhiqiang, a lawyer for the family of the victim Yu Qiyi confirmed to BBC Chinese that they had been issued on 30 September.

Analysts say the case casts light on the darker side of party discipline.

Yu Qiyi, the chief engineer of a state-owned company in Wenzhou, was being interrogated by six party officials - not police - when he died on 9 April.

The six officials, five from the party's corruption watchdog the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, were convicted of intentionally inflicting harm leading to Mr Yu's death.

His head was submerged under water several times during his interrogation, the court heard.

"It is rare for party officials in charge of internal discipline to be given such heavy sentences for doing their duties," Mr Pu said.

They had been made scapegoats for the party, he said. The sentences served as a warning to all party officials not to abuse their power when dealing with disciplinary matters, he added.

Mr Pu, who was removed from court during the first day of the trial on 17 September, criticised the court for issuing the verdicts behind closed doors.

Appeal

The six officials have all appealed against the court rulings, arguing that they were acting on orders from above, according to Mr Pu.

Reuters news agency, quoting a statement from Chi Susheng, a lawyer for one of the defendants, reports that all six men had testified that Mr Yu was deprived of sleep and beaten during his extra-judicial detention.

But they insisted they had treated him harshly at the behest of more senior officials.

"The higher-up officials have not been held accountable, don't you think this is unfair?" Reuters quoted Mr Yu's ex-wife, Wu Qian, as saying.

"We are very dissatisfied that the main culprits have not been brought to justice."

Yu Qiyi, who was a Communist Party member of Wenzhou Industry Investment Group, died during the so-called shuanggui process, an internal disciplinary procedure where officials are asked to confess wrongdoings.

He had been detained for internal investigations into a land deal since early March.

Party attempts to pass his death off as an accident failed and the trial was held in a public court, which is extremely rare in this kind of case.

"Yu Qiyi was a strong man before the shuanggui process, but he was thin by the time he died," Wu Qian told the Beijing Times.

"He had many internal and external injuries after the 38 days [in detention]. Apart from the drowning exposed by the prosecution, he must have been tortured in other ways, and more people may have been involved," she said.

The case appears to be a rare acknowledgement of some of the methods that lie behind the country's well publicised crackdown on corruption, correspondents say.

Shuanggui is an extra-legal process during which there have been a number of reports of sudden deaths in recent months.

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