Man charged with child murders after controversial probe Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Police have charged a 33-year-old man with the murders of six children in northeast China, wrapping up a widely criticized investigation into the serial killings.

Wu Heping, spokesman for China's Ministry of Public Security, in Beijing Tuesday acknowledged official failings before and during the investigation that might have prolonged the murder spree.

"Sadly, six dead kids may have died because of our failings," Wu added, referring to criticisms of the investigation and police actions.

Gong Runbo, who has a record of rape convictions, is alleged to have killed the children after luring them to his rented apartment in Jiamusi, Heilongjiang Province, where he allegedly sexually abused some of them.

Gong was arrested on February 28, when a boy managed to escape from the apartment and call the police. They captured Gong in a nearby Internet cafe. Police claim to have found four decomposing bodies, and children's clothes in his apartment.

But police dismissed reports that more than six children might have died after they ran DNA tests on the clothes, which indicated no further victims.

Local police officers have been criticized for their slow response to missing children reports and the victims' families have called for compensation.

"Police at each level should learn from this case by paying more attention to cases of missing kids and responding faster in similar investigations," Wu said.

Wu said the case spotlighted failings in the administration of departments involved in the investigation.

Schools needed to react quicker in cases where kids are absent without explanation, Wu said. Corrections authorities also needed to supervise former convicts more closely.

"And despite the government's ban on minors in Internet bars, Gong was taking these kids in and out of a local Internet cafe without being confronted or reported to the police," Wu added.

He said local police had taken "serious action" to remedy their failings and the provincial police head had ordered intensive inspections of rented houses, migrant populations, and cases of missing people.

A review of school security was also underway, Wu said.

Editor: Liu Dan
Source: Xinhua