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Another suspect dies in Kunming police custody

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A man being held in detention in Kunming died in a hospital on Saturday with no clear cause of death, according to a Xinhua report.

According to a police spokesperson speaking to reporters on Sunday, 43-year-old Wang Shukun (王树坤) had been held in the Guandu District Detention Center since July 19 before being checked into a hospital by police on August 6. After undergoing emergency procedures to save his life, Wang died early Saturday, the spokesperson said.

Wang was initially arrested after a traffic accident between his relative Lu Chunlei and the driver of a cargo truck on July 18. Lu told Oriental Morning News that after colliding with the truck, he called several friends to the scene, including Wang Shukun. Lu said the driver of the truck called a man surnamed Zheng, whom he referred to as "boss".

Upon the arrival of Lu's friends and "boss" Zheng, Zheng allegedly began to curse at Lu's entourage, saying "You bunch of bastards, here for a free meal, are you?" and eventually claimed to be a policeman.

Lu said an altercation broke out, after which police showed up, allegedly allowing Zheng to beat members of Lu's group in their presence. Zheng, who sustained unspecified injuries during the fighting, was allowed to go to a hospital for treatment. Lu's friends, including Wang Shukun, were taken to the Guandu District's Shuangfeng Police Station. It was the last time Wang would be seen alive in public.

According to Wang's relative Lu Jin, the police said that Wang caught a cold on August 2, and took some medicine. On August 6, Wang became extremely uncomfortable and was taken to a prison hospital. The following night, his condition worsened and he died shortly after midnight on August 8. An investigation into the cause of Wang's death is underway.

Wang's case is somewhat reminiscent of the so-called "eluding the cat" case in which Li Qiaoming, a young man detained for illegal logging, died while in police custody in Jinning County. Jinning police drew the ire of Chinese netizens for dismissively claiming that Li was playing elude the cat (躲猫猫), a Chinese game similar to hide-and-seek.

Months after a media firestorm and creative attempts by the local government to contain the brewing PR disaster, the initial explanation was reversed.

Last Thursday police officers Su Shaolu and Li Dongming went on trial for abuse of inmates and dereliction of duty for failing to do anything about the bullying that allegedly led to Li Qiaoming's death.

Meanwhile, the term "dying from fever", the current official explanation of Wang Shukun's death in detention, is already being compared to "eluding the cat" by Chinese media commentators.

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