A local police chief in Yunnan Province said he will stake his career on an investigation into an explosion that killed four people including the man accused of setting off the blast.
Qiaojia police and officials from Zhaotong presented several reporters Monday with more evidence that they say shows Zhao Dengyong exploded the bomb which also injured 16 people, several of them seriously.
"I can pledge my career prospects on the fact that Zhao Dengyong is the suspect," said Qiaojia police chief Yang Chaobang, adding that the police are continuing their investigation and are attempting to determine if others were involved in the bombing.
The latest pleading from the local police appears to have not yet dispelled public skepticism or appease the suspect's family who do not believe Zhao was capable of setting off such a blast.
Police say Zhao was antisocial and was prone to violent outbursts. They provided transcripts of his online posts to support their hypothesis, news portal yunnan.cn reported. Police have also shown some news organizations footage from a surveillance camera that they say proves Zhao is the culprit.
The blast struck a community office in Qiaojia on Thursday, as local people were signing compensation agreements for the demolition of their homes. The first media reports quoted witnesses as saying that a woman holding a child was seen setting off the explosion.
The latest explanations by the police fueled a new round of controversy yesterday, as some people claimed that police have jumped to conclusion based on Zhao's postings made two years ago.
"Such allegations are absurd and do not make sense at all," Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times. "What local officials should do now is collect evidence in line with legal procedures and release updates in a timely manner rather than make empty promises."
Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer at the Beijing Qijian Law Firm, who has followed the case closely, told the Global Times yesterday that the authorities have been too hasty in fingering Zhao.
"If he was really intending to retaliate against society as the police claim, why would he not choose a place where he would create greater chaos?" said Liu, noting that police have also concluded that Zhao had nothing to do with the demolition matters being dealt with at the office where the explosion took place.
Liu agrees that the video footage that shows Zhao at the scene is undisputable, but police should not rule out that he was there for some other purpose and that the bomb was detonated by others.
"It's crucial for local police to track the source of the explosive right now," said Liu.
Zhao's brother, Zhao Dengxian, said on his Sina Weibo yesterday that his younger brother has been unjustly accused.
"It's so 'dark' here and there is nowhere to make our voice heard," he wrote. "They said my brother is the suspect but couldn't identify the source of the explosive."
Professor Zhu told the Global Times that the skepticism indicates the local government's lack of credibility in dealing with emergencies.
"The police have to solve this case based on the facts, even if they are under pressure to get to the bottom of it quickly," said Liu. "They have a responsibility toward the deceased and their families."