A top-level team has been despatched to investigate a case in which the mother of an 11-year-old girl gang raped and forced into prostitution was sentenced to 18 months of "re-education through labor" because of her protests.
The team, sent to the city of Yongzhou by Hunan Province's Communist Party Committee, is also to check whether police falsified evidence to get a lighter sentence for one of seven defendants found guilty of gang rape.
The girl's mother, Tang Hui, was detained and punished for "seriously disturbing social order" because of her protests outside courts and government buildings in Yongzhou, city police said in an announcement on Sunday.
Tang "blocked cars and the entrances of the buildings and shouted out loud" on seven occasions between March last year and July this year to demand death sentences for the men charged with gang raping her daughter and forcing her into prostitution.
Her protests "caused extremely bad social influences," the police said in its announcement.
One of her protests was outside the government buildings on June 5 after a court sentenced two defendants to death, gave four others life sentences and jailed the remaining defendant for 15 years.
One of them, Qin Xing, asked for his death sentence to be commuted as Yongzhou police said he had prevented a woman from committing suicide in jail. That sparked public concern over the falsification of evidence by police officers after it was revealed that Qin was related to a police bureau official.
In a bid to remove doubts, Yongzhou police made another announcement on Sunday, saying their investigation had shown that Qin did save the woman, Zhou Lanlan, from hanging herself in her cell. They denied police officers had falsified evidence to help Qin have his sentence commuted.
Zhou, however, told reporters in an interview that she had never tried to commit suicide because she had a daughter, injured as the result of a medical accident, to care for.
A lawyer for Tang told reporters that Tang had repeatedly asked the court to punish police officers she believed had helped Qin with false evidence but the court refused. She then went to the court and government buildings to protest, the lawyer said.
Her daughter was kidnapped by criminals who sold her to a nightclub in Yongzhou where she was raped and forced to provide sexual services.
Over a three-month period in 2006, the 11-year-old girl was forced to have sex more than 100 times, during which she was beaten up and raped.
The defendants told the girl that her family members would be killed if she refused to work at the nightclub.
A customer at the club phoned Tang after he had seen pictures Tang had posted of her missing daughter. Tang immediately called the police but nothing was done. It was only when she called them a second time that officers helped to rescue the girl.