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Four sex slaves detained in probe

By Liu Xiangrui and Yang Xiaonan  (China Daily)

12:13, September 24, 2011

A man on Friday looks through the windows of a residential building's basement in Luoyang, Henan province. Li Hao is alleged to have dug a secret dungeon 4 meters beneath the basement and enslaved six women. (Xiang Mingchao / China Daily)

LUOYANG, Henan - Police have detained four women who were allegedly kept as sex slaves in a secret dungeon.

The women, aged 16 to 24, were discovered imprisoned in a cellar underneath an old residential community early this month. Detectives also found the bodies of two other women in a shallow grave.

"We're still investigating the case," was all Wang Haifeng, a spokesman for Luoyang city's public security bureau, would say on Friday. He refused to comment on whether the women are suspected of killing the others.

Li Hao, a 34-year-old worker at the city's quality supervision bureau, is accused of kidnapping six women and keeping them as sex slaves in a purpose-built dungeon for two years.

He killed two after they attempted to fight back, authorities said.

Police in a southern city of Henan province detained Li on Sept 3. He is said to have fled Luoyang when one of his hostages escaped.

After raising the alarm on Sept 6, the escapee told police she was released from the dungeon so Li could force her to have sex with other men, saying it was something he did when he needed money.

According to media reports, Li spent about two years digging two small rooms 4 meters beneath a basement before abducting the women, who all worked at nightclubs and karaoke bars.

Police say the women may be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome - when hostages start to sympathize with their captors.

Li lives with his wife, 24, and their 1-year-old child.

"We can't imagine this," said Kou Yongxue, a resident who lives in the building above the dungeon. "This is too cruel to believe. Neighbors are still shuddering at this."

The case has led to waves of discussion online, while the reporter who broke the story has even accused local authorities of trying to cover up the grizzly discovery because the prime suspect works in the local quality supervision authority.

Ji Xuguang of Southern Metropolis Daily said on Thursday he was "threatened" and interrogated by officials about his source.

"They asked me who tipped me off and said I was revealing a 'State secret'," the journalist wrote on his micro blog, along with a picture of two men he claims were city officials.

Authorities denied claims of an attempted coverup.

In a phone interview with China Daily on Thursday night, Ji said he was trying to protect himself by posting the message, adding that he has left the province due to safety concerns.


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