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Task force set up to probe activist death

Phila Siu and Roy Chan

Friday, June 15, 2012

A special task force has been set up to probe the death of mainland activist Li Wangyang.

A spokesman for the Hunan public security bureau said it comprises experts in criminal investigation and was set up in response to suspicions raised by people and the media outside the province about the death.

The 62-year-old, who was blind and deaf, was found dead in a Shaoyang city hospital ward last week, hanged from a window bar with a strip of cloth. His feet were touching the floor, raising suspicions about claims of suicide by officials. Medical experts invited from outside of Hunan are also working on Li's autopsy report, the spokesman said. A report will be announced "in time," he added. City authorities have already cremated Li's body, saying it was at the family's request.

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In Hong Kong, Li Gang, deputy director of the central government liaison office, confirmed a task force was set up. "We have noticed that the Hong Kong public and media are concerned about Li Wangyang's death. We immediately passed this concern to the central government's relevant department," Li said.

A vigil marking the seventh day of Li's death was attended by 1,500 people on Wednesday in Central. That followed a march last week to the liaison office in Sheung Wan, which attracted as many as 25,000 protesters demanding an investigation into his death.

Earlier yesterday, in his last Legislative Council question-and- answer session, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen commented on Li's death. "I understand how the Hong Kong people feel about this incident. I think there are suspicions surrounding this incident. I very much believe that the mainland authorities have also listened to the views of the Hong Kong public." Tsang said he had reflected Hongkongers' views to Beijing, but did not say how and when.

National People's Congress Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said she had written to the NPC Secretary-General Li Jianguo on Sunday. She urged the central government to demand a public explanation from the local government.

Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying continues to give vague comments on this matter, saying he has feelings about Li's death as do other Hongkongers. "I said earlier that I will not publicly discuss this issue, but I will reflect Hongkongers' views," Leung said.

Meanwhile, the leader of Hong Kong's Catholics, Cardinal John Tong Hon, said Beijing should give a full account of Li's death.


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