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Dead corner in police video leaves questionmark over detainee death

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Kunming police showed video at a press conference yesterday which they claim proves that the death of burglary suspect Xing Kun (郉鯤) in police custody on Saturday was suicide and not torture, as claimed by Xing's parents.

The video reportedly shows Xing, 29, alone in an interrogation room unlocking his handcuffs with a banknote and attempting unsuccessfully to hang himself with a bootlace, according to a China Daily report.

The moment of Xing's death was not captured on film because he was in a corner of the room outside of the surveillance camera's range, the report said.

In a phone interview with the China Daily, Xing's father Xing Caifang (郉才芳) criticized the police and municipal procurator, who jointly held the press conference, for not notifying him that the video was going to be shown to reporters.

He also expressed confusion as to why police would have allowed his son to bring a bootlace or anything else that could be used to commit suicide into the interrogation room.

The municipal procurator reportedly performed an autopsy on Xing Kun in front of relatives – including his father – on Tuesday.

"The evidence along with the autopsy results are still not solid enough to convince me," the elder Xing said. "One day the truth will finally come out."

General reaction to the case on the Chinese internet has not been favorable to the police, who have had a less than stellar year in terms of public relations. In 2009, the Kunming Public Security Bureau has had to deal with several high-profile cases involving alleged police misconduct, including two previous detainee deaths and a poorly handled case involving alleged child prostitution.

A Sohu report on the Xing Kun case cited one netizen's comment on the case as a typical reaction by people elsewhere in the country.

"Could it be that he hung himself with a cobweb?" the commenter asked.

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