WUHAN, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Police in a central China county have confirmed an inmate in a detention center drowned in a laundry basin, but they have ruled out foul play despite Internet speculation of a cover-up.
Xue Hongfu, 55, was found dead in the basin in the yard of the detention center of Gong'an County, Jingzhou City, Hubei Province on Wednesday, a spokesman for the county's public security bureau said Saturday.
The basin measured just 55 cm in length, 47 cm in width and 46 cm in depth, said the spokesman, who only identified himself as Huang, citing a circular from the bureau.
Xue was detained on March 27 for stealing a bicycle from a supermarket. He was sentenced to 15 days in the detention center and fined 1,000 yuan (147 U.S. dollars).
In 1993, a local court sentenced him to 18 months in jail for theft.
Investigations by the public security bureau and procuratorate of Gong'an showed Xue drowned and ruled out the possibility of foul play, according to the circular.
Huang gave no further details of the investigation findings.
Xue's family had been present while coroners conducted an external examination of the body and they accepted the conclusion, said Huang. The body was cremated by his family on Thursday.
However, postings on the Internet cast doubt on the official explanation of Xue's death and some speculated that local police had paid 300,000 yuan to Xue's family.
Citing other online sources, a report on www.sina.com said Saturday that Xue's family went to the local funeral house and found bloodstains in Xue's mouth, ears and nose.
"One can drown in a small basin? I want to try!" said a posting by "Jinju Guantou" on a forum of www.jinmeier.com.
The provincial and municipal public security authorities have sent investigators to Gong'an to look into the death.