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Beijing police punished after environmentalist's death in custody

BEIJING Two Beijing police officers have been punished following the death of an environmentalist in custody in May, state media said on Friday, a case that sparked public disquiet about China’s law enforcement methods.

Lei Yang, 29, was arrested in a massage parlour as part of a police operation against prostitution and died hours later after choking on his own vomit.

While prosecutors decided last week not to press charges against the police officers, two of them have now been punished, the official China Daily said, citing the Beijing police.

One officer has been sacked and expelled from the Communist Party, while another has been removed from his post and given an administrative warning, the newspaper said.

The Global Times, published by the party’s official People’s Daily, cited the family’s lawyer as saying they would drop their case against the officers involved and take an undisclosed amount in compensation.

The case sparked a public outcry earlier this year when Lei’s wife cast doubt on the results of a police investigation into her husband’s death, with hundreds of comments on social media lambasting the lack of oversight and transparency in Chinese law enforcement.

The UN Committee Against Torture last December expressed its concerns about the mistreatment of detainees in China’s police stations and prisons, claiming “the practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system”.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)