Police in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region say they are investigating the case of a 17-year-old who was falsely detained for two weeks, The Beijing News reported Sunday.
Police apprehended Long Fei — the pseudonym used by media for the high schooler — at a hotel in the city of Liuzhou in late February as a suspect in a fight that took place in 2018. Long was held for 14 days at a detention center in Sanjiang Dong Minority Autonomous County, where the fight took place. He was released on March 9 after a teacher testified that he had been at a school-organized military training session at the time of the fight.
Long’s father, who asked to be identified by the pseudonym Long Xing for fear of repercussion, told Sixth Tone on Monday that he did not know about the detention until his son’s friend called him two days afterward. “The police did not contact me, and when I went to them, they treated me and my son as if he had already been convicted,” the father said.
According to The Beijing News, police did not tell Long Fei which crime he was being detained for or cross-check the information the teenager provided during interrogation: Long Fei had said he was at a military training session organized by his school in August when the fight occurred.
County police told Sixth Tone on Monday that they could not comment on any details of the incident amid an ongoing investigation.
Ren Xinghui, a lawyer in the eastern Shandong province who specializes in civil rights cases, told Sixth Tone that the police’s actions constitute a “severe violation” of the country’s Criminal Procedure Law. The police, he said, should have not only tried to verify the suspect’s alibi but also informed his parents of the detention within 24 hours.
“Since Long is a minor, his legal representative — whether a relative, a teacher, or a social worker from a child protection organization — should have been there during the interrogation,” Ren added.
Long Fei’s father said he encountered difficulties while trying to prove his son’s innocence. He said police dismissed his son’s school attendance record as fake and refused to solicit statements from two of Long Fei’s classmates since both were under the age of 18.
Long Xing also accused the police of violence. Referring to a conversation with his son’s friend, Long Xing said police had rushed into a hotel room where the teens were staying during their military training, forced them to the ground, and slapped one of Long Fei’s classmates before taking his son into custody. The Beijing News reported that Long Fei was abused by other inmates at the detention center.
Wu Lei, another Shandong-based civil rights lawyer, told Sixth Tone on Monday that police should hold underage suspects in a separate detention facility from adults. He also added that the 14-day detention runs foul of Chinese law: Police can only detain suspects for a maximum of seven days.
“It’s rare for police to handle a case involving a minor with such negligence,” Ren said. “This reflects some long-standing issues with the police — ignoring suspects’ rights, failing to verify the truth, sticking to their presumption of guilt, and abusing the use of coercive measures such as detention.”
Long Xing said his son is now free but still shaken from the ordeal, and has yet to return to school. “He is still mentally fragile and can even be jumpy when we speak loudly,” the father said.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: Zhao Jingdong/VCG)