China shocked by mass cover up that saw convicted murderer, freed after three months, go on to become a high ranking official

Alice Yan

Chinese officials who let a convicted murderer walk free just months into a 15-year sentence have been exposed in a web of corruption dating back decades.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region judicial authority in China said a years-long investigation had found 84 officials were involved in the scandal that saw the killer serve just three months of his sentence almost three decades ago in 1992.

Of those 84 – which included eight top-level officials ­– the region’s Political and Justice Committee said 54 received harsh disciplinary measures while 20 were given lighter sentences and 10 were under police investigation. Another 10 officials had died before the authority concluded the investigation.

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During the investigation, authorities found that the prisoner, Batu Menghe, then 18, had been released from prison on parole to seek medical treatment in September 1993.

He had served three months of his 15-year sentence for the stabbing murder of Bai Yongchun in the Mongolian village of Chenbaerhu Banner, where they both lived.

Batu had turned himself in to authorities after the killing.

The sentence saw him also stripped him of his political rights for two years which prevented him from holding public office at that time.

The investigation found that after Batu’s temporary release from prison to seek medical treatment, he never returned, instead moving to Bayankuren Town for 14 years, according to the statement.

Batu’s mother Tong Laga, a health official at the time, and his uncle, Chao Lumen, an education official, were instrumental in the cover-up, asking two senior local hospital officials to issue a certificate with a fake diagnosis, authorities said.

With further help from three prison officials, two judicial authorities and the Vice Party Secretary of Chenbaerhu Banner, a fraudulent medical certificate was issued by the authority’s Public Security Bureau director, Chu Gulan.

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In 2007, his official release date, Batu was issued with a certificate of release from the prison director, showing his full sentence had been served. The document made no mention of the ban on his political rights for two years.

After his official release, Batu became a Party member in 2010 after the Party secretary Tao Dao instructed two lower-ranking party members to put in an application to join the party on his behalf. The application left out his conviction, clearing the path for his inauguration into the party. With the help of Tao, Batu was elected as a deputy of the People’s Congress in the small region of Xiwuzhuersumu.

In 2012, Batu was then elected as a People’s Congress delegate in the more powerful Chenbaerhu Banner region and was illegally elected as a village chief in 2009, 2012 and 2015, the statement said.

Authorities decided to investigate after repeated whistle-blowing by the dead boy’s mother, Han Jie, 74, who never gave up seeking justice for her son.

In 2017, Batu was arrested and returned to jail after authorities found he had embezzled 290,000 yuan (US$44, 267) while serving as village chief.

In 2018, a court in Chenbaerhu Banner sentenced Batu to jail for three years and fined him 200,000 yuan (US$30, 529) for embezzlement. However, the court ruled that due to his illegal escape from jail 15 years previously, he would finally serve his sentence in full.

“I have been reporting to the authorities over the past three decades. The punishment decision has finally come,” Han told news portal Red Start News.

“My son was killed by Batu Menghe when he was younger than 20. Who could imagine that this murderer could be a village chief and a People’s Congress deputy?” she said.

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