Lawyers seek answers over death of 2 girls

By Zhang Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2013-6-27 23:48:01

Five lawyers on Wednesday filed an application to four government agencies in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, for information disclosure on what role local officials played in the case that saw two children allegedly starved to death at home due to a lack of guardianship.

Two girls, aged 1 and 3, were found dead on June 21 by Wang Pingyuan, a police officer. The children's father had been jailed and their mother, an unemployed drug addict surnamed Le, had disappeared.

The five female lawyers have demanded that local authorities, including the civil affairs bureau, the subdistrict office, public security bureau and women's federation of Jiangning district, disclose information to see if there was any dereliction of duty involved.

Le is now under arrest for murder, and her competence in obtaining the guardianship of the children has been questioned.

"In this case, the mother should take the major responsibility. But authorities also have the obligation to ask the local court to change the guardianship," Wang Yuqin, a lawyer in the Shandong-based Quanshun law firm, one of the five lawyers, told the Global Times Thursday.

"If this had been done earlier, the girls would not have died," the lawyer remarked.

China's Law on the Protection of Minors stipulates that the court has the right to revoke the guardianship of parents and change it if relevant authorities apply and the parents are not qualified.

"Local authorities should have applied," the lawyer told the Global Times, adding that it is a right given by the law to ask for information disclosure.

"If they disclose the information on time and negligence is found, we will reserve the right to sue," the lawyer noted.

Le had been in administrative detention due to drug use in 2012 but was pardoned as she was breast feeding her daughter. Local authorities then decided to give her 800 yuan ($130) a month and assigned Wang Pingyuan, the officer, to visit regularly.

"Wang contacted Le every week and even bought infant formula. He did not give her the money until he saw the kids were OK," an official in Jiangning public security bureau, surnamed Wang, told the Global Times, adding that he was not aware of such an application as of Thursday.

"I lost contact with Le since June 8 and had not seen the kids since then. She was not at home and switched off her cellphone," Wang Pingyuan said.

Neighbors assumed that the girls died of starvation, saying that in March the girls were also left alone, but the elder girl made her way out and got help, the Beijing Times reported.

The subdistrict office then rejected residents' demands that the girls be sent to the child welfare agency, saying the parents were still around.

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