Chinese police have arrested nine people over the death of a petitioner who travelled to Beijing to allege local officials had carried out fraud.
He died after being forced inside a vehicle by a group of men just after he arrived in the capital and was then handcuffed and beaten while being driven for 81 hours back to his home in Sichuan province.
The body of Yang Tianzhi, 68, was found lying in the street of Bangou village in the town of Zhenyu, in Yuechi county on August 20, Yuechi police said in a statement on its official Weibo page on Sunday.
A Yuechi official surnamed Yu has been suspended from his job over the matter, the statement said.
Yang and three other villagers – two men and one woman – had travelled to the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, the central authority that receives petitions, on August 17 to claim local officials had embezzled funds villagers should have received as compensation for letting developers build on their land, a social media portal run by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television reported last week.
However, when Yang and his fellow petitioners arrived at the bureau, the suspects tricked them into getting into a waiting vehicle by promising to provide them with accommodation, the police statement said.
Yang’s companions told reporters the three men were handcuffed inside the vehicle and then all four of them were beaten by a group of men while being driven for 81 hours back to Yuechi county, the report said.
They were denied any food or water during the ordeal, they said.
When the van arrived in Yuechi, the three other petitioners were allowed to get out, the report said.
The three villagers said they did not know why Yang died, according to the report.