US man tortured in Chinese custody: lawyer

BEIJING - Police in southern China have tortured a Chinese-American businessman who is in custody suspected of leading an organised crime gang, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Vincent Wu, who was born in China but lives in Los Angeles, was detained by police in Guangdong province on June 22 but only given access to his lawyers on July 12, lawyer Qin Futing told AFP.

“He told us that they were trying to torture a confession out of him,” Qin said.

“He looked pretty bad, he was beaten badly.”

Wu carries an American passport and also has a Hong Kong residency card, the police said.

Chinese police are notorious for their bad treatment of criminal subjects and torture to force confessions is widely used, lawyers and rights groups say.

Wu, 53, was arrested by police in Huizhou city in a joint operation that led to the detention of 42 others suspected of being in Wu’s gang, the Huizhou police said in a report on their website.

Known in Chinese as Hu Weisheng or Hu Mouxing, Wu and the alleged gang are facing charges that include kidnapping, extortion, assault with intent to injure, arson and other crimes, the police report said.

The crimes were allegedly committed as Wu tried to control fruit and wholesale markets linked to his companies in Guangdong, it said.

“We think that Hu Weisheng is likely innocent, the charges brought against him are unjust,” lawyer Qin said.

According to the overseas Chinese-language news website Boxun, Wu was strung up by his arms and beaten, had an electric cattle prod forced into his mouth and had his head slammed into a wall. He was also deprived of sleep.

Most of the other detainees received similar treatment, while some of them were released after they said that Wu had committed crimes, Boxun said.

Over 600 policemen were involved in the June 22 detentions that was part of a provincial-level crackdown on organised crime in Guangdong, local press reports said.

“We are aware of this case,” a US embassy spokesman in Beijing told AFP. “Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to provide further information.”

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