China guard at 'black' jail says he raped detainee

By CARA ANNA

A guard at an unofficial jail in the Chinese capital has pleaded guilty to raping a young detainee, an activist said Thursday, in a case that has put the spotlight on the "black jails" where a growing number of people seeking justice from the government end up.

The guard told a district court Wednesday he raped the 21-year-old student in August after she came to Beijing to ask the central government for help, local human rights activist Liu Dejun said.

Liu was not in court but was told of the guilty plea by people who attended the one-day trial. A verdict is expected within 30 days.

"He ruined my life," the woman told journalists after the trial, the Beijing News reported Thursday.

The woman, from central Anhui province, had been expelled from college because of poor exam scores and came to Beijing to ask the government to reinstate her.

Thousands of Chinese come to Beijing every year to air complaints ignored by local authorities, but human rights groups say hundreds are rounded up, often near the complaints office, by provincial officials who fear the complaints may get them in trouble.

The government has denied that the "black jails" exist, and the term was not mentioned at the trial, Liu said.

In August, the ruling Communist Party ordered local officials to meet regularly with people complaining of injustices, in an effort to stop them from coming to Beijing.

The woman escaped the "black jail" with about 50 other detainees after the guard fled following the rape. The Associated Press visited the guesthouse just hours after the alleged rape and found a filthy store room with metal-frame bunk beds, a squat toilet and a bolted door where the woman and others were reportedly held.

The night she arrived, she said, the guard forced his way onto her upper bunk and raped her. When the detainees broke through the wooden door and ran away, they took two bloody sheets as evidence.

The activist Liu said Thursday that the guard, 26-year-old Xu Jian, pleaded guilty to rape Wednesday in Fengtai District Court.

Police told the court the woman had mental problems and has limited ability to defend herself, the Beijing News reported -- meaning the guard's sentence could be more severe.

The woman's lawyer demanded compensation of 105,000 yuan ($15,375), but Xu said he's poor and will compensate as much as he can, Liu said in a phone interview.

The woman also gave the court a written request for government compensation, Liu said.

She "was upset with the court," he added, because she was interrupted when she tried to speak and the judge wouldn't explain the questions she couldn't understand.

The court dismissed charges against the guesthouse where the rape happened and provincial authorities, the China Daily newspaper reported Thursday.

The telephone at the court rang unanswered Thursday.

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Associated Press researcher Xi Yue contributed to this report.