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Blogger named director of investigation of 'hide-and-seek' incident

By in News on

In wake of the widespread disbelief expressed across the Chinese internet with regard to the official explanation that a 24-year-old man died from serious brain injuries while playing hide-and-seek in a detention center, the Yunnan government has taken the unusual step of appointing one of Kunming's most popular bloggers head of the investigation into the incident.

Kunming blogger Zhao Li (赵立), best known by his blog name Fengzhimoduan (风之末端 ) was named director of an investigation committee looking into the death of Yuxi resident Li Qiaoming, who had been detained in late January for illegal logging in Jinning County. Li was taken by police to a hospital on February 8 with brain injuries – four days later he was pronounced dead.

The incident caught the attention of the Chinese blogosphere and media because Jinning police told Li's parents that he had sustained the head injuries, as well as kicks and blows, while playing hide-and-seek with other inmates. In Chinese, hide-and-seek is known as 'duo maomao', or 'eluding the cat' – the Yunnan government now refers to Li's death as the 'Duo maomao incident'.

The blogger Zhao was chosen by the provincial government to head a committee of 15 investigators composed of four public security officers and prosecutors, three reporters and eight members of the public including Zhao, another blogger who was named deputy director of the investigation committee and three people who won an online lottery.

The unorthodox move to make popular bloggers heads of an investigation committee is a tacit admission by the Yunnan government of the power of the internet – especially blogs – in shaping Chinese public opinion. It also belies the widespread suspicion of the official version of Li's death.

Midday on Friday, Zhao and the rest of the committee arrived at the Jinning detention facility where Li had been held prior to hospitalization. The committee visited the cell where Li had been held and were shown documents related to the events leading up to his death. In the afternoon the committee held its first press conference with regard to the investigation.

"We're satisfied with the attitude of the police toward our investigation," investigation committee director Zhao said, "We're not professional investigators but we're doing our best."

As of 2 pm local time on Saturday, Zhao had yet to make any references to the investigation on his blog.

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