An official from a public prosecutor’s office in northeastern China is being investigated on suspicion of fatally shooting a cabaret singer in 1993, The Beijing News reported Wednesday. Initiated by the disciplinary watchdog of Heilongjiang province in September, the case is a direct result of a national campaign launched earlier this year to weed out corrupt officials who abet criminals, according to the report.
In January 1993, a 24-year-old man named Chen Zhiwei got into a fight at a cabaret lounge in the city of Hailin. According to eyewitnesses interviewed by The Beijing News, after being struck in the face with a champagne bottle, Chen pulled out a gun and fired three shots: one into the top of the stage, one into a tea table, and one into a singer’s chest, killing her. But Chen was never investigated for homicide; instead, he was appointed to a post at the local procuratorate, or public prosecutor’s office, just four months later.
According to a Nov. 2 announcement from the discipline inspection committee of Mudanjiang — a large city that administers the relatively smaller Hailin — the homicide investigation was deliberately delayed in 1993 by Han Baolin, who was then serving as both the head and Party secretary of the city’s public security bureau. The case was further impeded when Han Guojun, a police officer, “lost” the case file later that year. With the investigation intentionally botched, the Hailin People’s Procuratorate hired Chen in May 1993 despite the fact that he was technically still under criminal investigation and thus did not meet their standard requirements.
In return for the cover-up and the prestigious appointment, Han Baolin in early 1994 asked Chen’s father, coal baron Chen Fuqing, to donate two villas in the eastern province of Shandong for Hailin police to use as “health resorts.” Han sweetened the deal by giving the elder Chen a sinecure at the police bureau.
In addition to Chen Fuqing’s coal business, the family reportedly had illicit income streams from sand mining and usurious lending. Qian Jiuhai, a real estate developer, told The Beijing News that he was forcibly detained by Chen Zhiwei’s thugs for an entire month in 2015 as they attempted to collect an unpaid debt.
Not until September of this year was the younger Chen removed from his post as deputy head of the Hailin procuratorate’s technology department, expelled from the Communist Party, and placed under investigation, according to a notice released by Heilongjiang’s discipline inspection committee in early November. Fourteen other cadres and officials face punishments ranging from demotions to Party demerits for helping cover up the homicide and protect the Chen family’s illegal businesses. Eleven individuals, including former police chief Han Baolin, are currently being investigated by police, the notice added.
In January, China launched a nationwide crackdown on criminal gangs and the officials who shield or otherwise enable them. In the first half of this year, the campaign led to 37,398 arrests and 15,548 convictions. In April, two village officials in the northern province of Shanxi were detained for actively hiding an illegal chemical-dumping site the size of two soccer fields.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: Two security guards sit at the entrance of a county prosecutor’s office in Zhengzhou, Henan province, April 15, 2013. VCG)