A 15-member investigation team setout for Jinning County in southwest China's Yunnan Province Friday morning for a probe of a man's death in prison, which local police had said was an accident caused by a game of "hide-and-seek".
Li Qiaoming, 24, of Yuxi City, was taken into custody in Jinning on Jan. 30 for cutting trees without authorization. He was hospitalized on Feb. 8 and died four days later from severe brain injuries.
According to the Jinning public security bureau, Li was fatally injured while playing hide-and-seek with other inmates, one of whom supposedly reacted angrily when his hiding-place was uncovered by Li. According to the bureau, Li was pushed and struck a wall as he fell.
Li's parents and many netizens said they found the official account hard to believe. A story about the incident appeared in a local newspaper in the provincial capital of Kunming on Feb. 13.
"I've never heard of such a funny joke," said Liu Yun, a netizen from Kunming, on the www.163.com forum.
A 15-member commission with five netizens, three reporters (including one from Xinhua), four public security and prosecutors' staff, two company employees and a college student, went to the Jinning Detention House affiliated with the county public security bureau on Friday.
Fengzhimoduan and Bianmin, two well-known blog writers in Yunnan, were director and deputy director of the commission.
The Yunnan Provincial Publicity Department posted a notice on major Yunnan-based websites Thursday afternoon, seeking people to join in the investigation. More than 510 people called or applied online.
"It's the first time in Yunnan, and even in China, to ask netizens to participate in an investigation," said Gong Gei, a provincial publicity department official.
"We don't have a conclusion. We invite the netizens to go to the scene and make their own judgement," he said.