Thirteen arrested for mall rumors

Updated: 2013-05-23 07:30

By Zhang Yan (China Daily)

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After woman's suicide, boyfriend 'tried to incite protests,' police say

Thirteen people have been arrested on charges of spreading rumors and disturbing public order in the protests that followed the death of a female migrant worker in Beijing earlier this month, police in the capital's Fengtai district have announced.

"Their behavior led to serious social consequences," a statement by the police said on Wednesday.

On May 3, 22-year-old Yuan Liya, a migrant worker from Lujiang in Anhui province, died after plunging from the seventh floor of Beijing Jingwen Mall, a wholesale clothing outlet in Fengtai district.

Police later said the initial findings pointed to suicide and they had excluded the possibilities of poisoning, murder and sexual assault.

Police notified her family members of the investigation's result, and released a short surveillance video to show that Yuan came into the mall alone on the evening of May 2.

Her body was found at the exit of the mall's underground car park on May 3, according to police.

"Due to discontent with the arrangements made by the mall, Yuan's boyfriend, surnamed Peng, and other suspects fabricated rumors to incite the victim's family members and friends to protest and argue for economic compensation," said Zi Xiangdong, media officer from Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.

After the incident, Peng and some of Yuan's classmates and friends from Anhui province used the Internet to distribute rumors, saying "the young girl died mysteriously" and "she was killed by the guards in the mall after they raped her," according to Fengtai public security bureau.

Another suspect, one of Yuan's friends surnamed Ma, set up a chat group for 1,000 people on the instant messaging service QQ to incite people to gather outside the Jingwen Mall and call for further investigations into the tragedy, according to the police.

On May 8, hundreds of people, including Yuan's family members, fellow migrant workers from Anhui, and shop workers protested outside the mall, said Li Runhua, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Some of them quarreled with police, and assaulted and injured police officers, he said.

Police later arrested Peng and another 12 suspects on charges of severely disrupting social order and spreading rumors online.

The mall agreed to pay Yuan's family 400,000 yuan ($65,000) as compensation for "negligence" by its management, according to a police statement released on May 12.

Gate keepers of the mall did not check whether there were people still on the premises, allowing the woman to stay in the center, government representatives from Yuan's hometown who came to Beijing to help handle the incident later said.

Li Runhua said the case is still being investigated and severe punishments will be handed out to those who used the Internet to commit crimes.

If people are convicted of stirring up trouble, such as causing serious disorder in public places or preventing law enforcement officers from performing their duty, they may serve jail terms of up to five years, said Li Lin, a lawyer from Beijing Lawyers' Society.

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