A policeman in east China's Jiangxi Province took bribes from the ex-wife and mistress of an arrested spiritual guide to help the suspect dodge punishment for his crimes, and a journalist helped broker the deal, police authorities said on Friday.
The plot centered on Wang Lin, claimed to be a master of qigong, a traditional martial art combined with meditation, who was detained in July for involvement in a detention and murder case.
Zhong Wei, the policeman in charge of photographing the scene of the crime in Pingxiang City and sorting out evidence documents, was promised 2 million yuan (about 315,000 U.S. dollars) by Wang's mistress Lei Fan, and ex-wife Zhang Qifeng, for leaking information on Wang's case, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.
They planned to pay Zhong in three installments, according to the statement. He used the first installment of 500,000 yuan to buy a BMW, arousing the suspicion of the police, who soon launched an investigation.
Lei Fan also slept with Zhong in return for the leaks, the ministry alleged.
It also said Liu Wei, a journalist from the Nanfang Metropolis Daily and who had been reporting extensively on Wang's case, helped broker the deal between Zhong and the two women and obtained exclusive news concerning Wang's case from Zhong in return.
Zhong was put under investigation on Sept. 9, following which the other three were detained in succession.
After the two women decided to offer the bribes, Lei told the plan to journalist Liu, according to Lei's confession.
According to the two women, Liu gained Wang Lin's trust and had close contact with his family after he interviewed Wang and wrote a flattering report in 2013.
Liu contacted the two women and helped them in order to obtain information from them. He helped Lei apply for new telephone numbers as her previous number was being monitored by the police. He also recommended his lawyer friend to be the attorney for Wang.
The four had two meetings respectively on Aug. 1 and Aug. 12, during which Zhong offered a lot of key information concerning Wang's case, including the confessions of other suspects and the collection of material evidence. Liu asked Zhong several questions and Zhong answered all of them, the ministry said.
After the second meeting, mistress Lei also arranged a secret meeting for Zhong and Wang's attorney, the friend of Liu, during which Zhong had given more information.
"I felt unworthy of the name 'the people's policeman,' and I have brought shame on the group," Zhong confessed.
"I love journalism very much, and have devoted myself to it, but because of this, everything has been ruined," Liu said, according to his statement.
He said he hoped his actions would alarm other journalists.
The police released Liu on bail. The other remain under arrest.
QIGONG MASTER WANG LIN
Wang Lin, 63, was propelled to fame by reports of his mysterious mastery of qigong. Wang is allegedly able to conjure up snakes from thin air and to be able to hit people remotely with his powers of concentration.
He also set up a clinic to treat people with traditional Chinese martial art at a sky-high price. He claimed to be friends with a number of celebrities and officials, with him often seen in pictures with singers and actors.
Wang drew massive media attention when one of his disciples, Zou Yong, was kidnapped on July 9 and murdered.
Wang and another suspect were arrested on the charge of illegal detention, while the other two were charged with homicide, according to local police.
Zou is thought to have been introduced to Wang in 2002. In a TV interview in 2013, Zou said he had paid 5 million yuan in 2009 to become a disciple of Wang, who asked for nearly 30 million yuan from him thereafter.
The two were subsequently involved in a web of lawsuits and disputes.
Wang had been previously investigated for possession of a gun, unlicensed medical practice, bribery and fraud. Local police and health authorities launched an investigation in 2013 but failed to make any headway due to lack of evidence.