Driver injured by protester sues Xi'an police

Updated: 2012-10-11 23:29

By MA LIE in Xi'an and WANG HUAZHONG in Beijing (China Daily)

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Performance of officers during anti-Japan protest challenged

A driver badly injured during an anti-Japan protest in Xi'an filed a lawsuit against the city's police force on Thursday, accusing it of dereliction of duty.

Li Jianli filed his case with a court in the city's Lianhu district, demanding 500,000 yuan ($79,600) in damages.

This is the latest challenge to the actions of police during demonstrations in the Shaanxi provincial capital, with two other residents also demanding authorities disclose total losses and investigate how the incidents were handled.

On Sept 15, Li's skull was fractured when he was struck on the head with a steel lock several times by a protester. Li had been attempting to protect his Toyota car from vandalism in a crowded street.

Duan Wanjin, Li's attorney, said on Thursday: "It's time we examined how police performed during the protests. People have learned that they should reasonably and peacefully express their feelings, but the police authority has yet to learn a lesson and be better prepared for situations like this in the future."

A spokesman for Xi'an police denied the allegations and said they had not been informed of the lawsuit.

Demonstrations were reported in more than 80 Chinese cities after the Japanese government decided on Sept 11 to "purchase" China's Diaoyu Islands.

Although rallies against the "purchase" were orderly in many cities, violence broke out elsewhere, including Qingdao, Changsha and Shenzhen, where there was looting and assaults, and Japanese cars were damaged.

Duan said most pictures and video footage of street crimes in Xi'an showed few police officers on duty.

"The damage and staffing levels suggest police did not attach enough attention to the situation. They had no contingency plans," he said, adding that this contributed to the injuries suffered by his client.

An interpretation by the Supreme People's Court in July 2001 stated that police should pay compensation to citizens, legal bodies and organizations if injury was caused as a result of dereliction of duty.

Wang Juling, Li's wife, said on Thursday the family is grateful to the police for catching the man who attacked her husband, and appreciates the fact officials from Xi'an Public Security Bureau visited Li in the hospital and donated 20,000 yuan to help pay his medical bills.

"We also thank the traffic police who helped take my husband to the hospital," she said. But she added that the family still considers the bureau's failure to perform its duties properly caused "trauma and loss".

An officer with the Public Security Bureau's general office, who declined to give his name, said they sent most of their forces onto the streets on Sept 15 to protect hotels, shops and residents from attack.

"Most protesters kept order but some offenders were mixed in with the crowd. It was difficult for us to distinguish them," he said.

He said the man suspected of injuring Li has been arrested, and the investigation is continuing.

On Sept 16, Xi'an police announced that rallies and protests were banned within the walled city's center. They banned demonstrations staged without approval and barred people from using cellphones, the Internet or other means to organize and instigate protests.

A spokesman for Lianhu district court declined to comment on Thursday.

Wang Tianding, dean of Xi'an International Studies University's journalism school, and a local news reporter wrote letters to the city police on Monday to demand they disclose more information about incidents on the day.

The letter asked whether the demonstration had been approved by police, and whether officers had contingency plans to protect people and property, and questioned the situation regarding injury and damage. It also asked police to disclose how many people were detained.

Wang said on Thursday he had yet to receive a reply from the authorities.

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