Last Tuesday, police in China’s southwestern mega-city, Chongqing, shot dead a fugitive named Zhou Kehua. This followed a massive man hunt and was supposed to close the books on case of the bank robber and serial killer.
Almost as soon as the news broke however, Chinese netizens began questioning the official version of events. First, some asked why Zhou’s face was never shown in officially released pictures—leading some to wonder whether the man shot dead was who police claimed he was.
Others compared the deceased body to the official descriptions given by the Chongqing police during the manhunt, which said Zhou was of slim built.
Then, this Monday, unofficial photos of Zhou’s body appeared online. They did not come from the police, but appear to have been leaked by a netizen. The pictures were meant to show the deceased person was indeed Zhou Kehua. But, the pictures raised new questions, like: why do the ears and nose appear different between the post mortem photo and Zhou’s mug shot, and also why there was no exit wound on the corpse's head.
Police later confirmed the pictures were of Zhou.
Some netizens went as far to question whether the man shot dead was another policeman in plain clothes.
Whether or not the deceased in question was the fugitive, the swirling online rumours show how many Chinese netizens question official accounts.
Chinese dissident writer Jing Chu says this case is the latest example of the widespread distrust of authorities amongst the Chinese public.
[Jing Chu, Chinese Dissident Writer]:
“Mainly the public has a strong feeling of discontent towards the regime. This is them now venting their extreme distrust of the government. With the internet, information flows much easier and more and more facts can be exposed. As instances of deceits are revealed one by one, it really has shocked the public.”
Chongqing police have maintained the man shot dead was Zhou Kehua. On Wednesday morning local time, more than 300 police personnel received commendations for bringing an end to Zhou’s case