China Communist Party investigators tried over drowning

File photo: Yu Qiyi poses for a photo at an exhibition held at a hotel in Beijing, 2 September 2012 Yu Qiyi was detained for internal investigations for more than 30 days

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The trial has begun in China of six Communist Party officials accused of causing the death of a man who drowned after his head was repeatedly plunged in icy water during an investigation.

Yu Qiyi, the chief engineer of a state-owned company in Wenzhou, was being interrogated by party officials - and not police - when he died on 9 April.

As the trial got under way, the family lawyer said he was ejected from court.

Analysts say the case casts light on the darker side of party discipline.

Indeed the case, which is being heard in the city of Quzhou, appears to be a rare acknowledgement of some of the methods that lie behind the country's well publicised crackdown on corruption, according to correspondents.

The case is extremely sensitive and the lawyer for Mr Yu's family has already expressed his anger at being removed from court, saying the legal process was flawed.

Reuters also reports that the lawyer for one of the accused expressed concern about the court's actions because her client wanted to apologise.

There has been no comment from the lawyers of the other accused men and neither the government nor the Communist Party has commented publicly on the case.

'Submerged'

The investigators are being tried for intentional infliction of harm leading to death.

Mr Yu was himself a Communist Party member but had been detained since early March for an internal investigation into a land deal.

On the night of 8 April, Mr Yu's head was submerged under water several times during his interrogation, the Beijing Times reported when news of the indictment of the six came to light.

He was taken to hospital, and died in the early hours of 9 April, the report said. His death was initially described as an accident.

But an image published on the Beijing Times website of a document recording the coroner's appraisal of Mr Yu's death said the official died after inhaling fluids that caused his lungs to malfunction.

"Yu Qiyi was a strong man before the shuanggui process, but he was thin by the time he died," Mr Yu's wife, Wu Qian, is quoted as telling the Beijing Times.

Shuanggui is an extra-legal process imposed on party officials under investigation. There have been a number of recent reports of sudden deaths during shanggui, correspondents say.

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