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[2006-01-13] China Daily — Lab poisoning mystery triggers debate

Posted by woodinwind on January 13, 2006

中国日报的报道

Zhu Ling as a college student in Tsinghua University in 1995.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2006-01/13/content_512136.htm

Lab poisoning mystery triggers debate
By Jessie Tao (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2006-01-13 17:37

Zhu Ling as a college student in Tsinghua University in 1995.

A mysterious poisoning case that happened 11 years ago in Tsinghua University has once again drawn attention of visitors to the Tianya club, one of the most visited online BBS in China.

Discussions have increased after the NO.1 suspect involved in a student’s death recently issued a statement of innocence for the first time after keeping silent for years.

Back in 1995, Zhu Ling was a sweet and smart chemistry student in the prestigious Tsinghua University. But she fell into a devastating state due to thallium poisoning. She is now fully paralyzed and has lost almost all the eyesight and language ability.

Discussion and speculation have never stopped on whether someone attempted to murder her through thallium poisoning, although the police have yet to give a definite answer.

One of Zhu Ling’s roommates, Sun Wei (alias), has been deemed the No. 1 suspect by Zhu’s parents.

“The university told us Sun was doing a research with a professor at that time. Thus she was the only student who might have access to the deadly heavy metal of thallium” said Zhu’s mother.

Eleven years later, Zhu Ling’s classmates, who have been collecting money for Zhu Ling’s treatment, again called for caring for the unfortunate woman, with the launch of a thread titled “Tsinghua girl poisoned ten years ago” in Tianya.

A netizen named Skyoneline wrote in the thread:

“…Smart, beautiful, and elegant, Zhu Ling was perfect in most people’s eyes. But a weird poisoning incident changed everything. In December of 1994, she suffered from a serious illness — heavy hair loss, paralyzed face, inarticulate, and weak limbs. None of the specialists in Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) could identify the cause, therefore, treatment was delayed.”
“Zhu’s high school classmate — Bei Zhicheng — made public Zhu’s symptoms on the Internet and appealed for help. Within a short time, he received over 1,500 replies, 30% of which thought it was thallium poisoning. But nobody at PUMCH looked at his materials, as the doctors had excluded the possibility of heavy metal poisoning. When the diagnosis of thallium poisoning finally came out, thallium had ruined most parts of her nervous system. She suffered serious sequelae (complications of a condition), even though by then thallium was clearly out of her body,” said Skyoneline.

Skyoneline went on to say in her thread, “Sun Wei was Zhu Ling’ classmate, roommate, and teammate on the college folk music team. According to some Tsinghua students, Sun was doing a research with her professor at that time, and was the only student that had access to thallium. Besides, due to her close relationship with Zhu, she had the best chance and time to poison Zhu. …Some well-informed classmates of Zhu Ling even point out that Sun Wei was the would-be poisoner…”

“Also according to Zhu’s Tsinghua classmates, Sun was denied the Certificate of Graduation without an official reason, and also was refused any materials for going abroad.” Skyoneline continued.

Skyoneline ‘s thread received abundant replies, most of which showed deep sympathy for Zhu, while accusing Sun of being the poisoner.

A month later a statement allegedly written by Sun Wei emerged in the Tianya club, refuting the illdoings and claiming Sun’s innocence

“Many people are helping Zhu Ling and demanding due punishment of the murderer. Rumors about me have been spreading all the time, but I retained my silence all the years. As I always believed my innocence would be proven one day. However, my silence has given people reason to doubt. Even my friends are asking me about the case. Therefore, I have decided to issue a statement of innocence here.” the statement read.

“I am innocent, and also a victim of the case,” claimed the statement.

According to the statement, the police questioned Sun Wei for eight hours on April 2, 1995, and cleared her of suspicion in August the same year, as there was no evidence pointing to her involvement in Zhu’s poisoning.
“The fact is the thallium liquid I used was prepared by others. What’s more, there was no strict management on poisonous reagent. Sometimes, the laboratory was even left unlocked,” Sun wrote in her statement.

Reaction to the statement is mixed.

Some expressed doubt on Sun’s statement.

A netizen nicknamed Yanshanqiandu2 believed Sun was exactly the guilty person who was trying to cover up her wrongdoings. “Why did you choose to keep silent ten years ago,” questioned Yanshanqiandu2.

A reply by Qipilaolang said: “Suspicion does not amount to your guilt, nor does the clearing statement warrant your innocence.”

Meanwhile, Sun also drew sympathy. “I support you, innocent Sun Wei. Both you and Zhu Ling are victims, and worthy of sympathy. Wish your and your family could live a peaceful life again. Wish Zhu Ling a quick recovery, and her family peace and happiness!” wrote a netizen nicknamed Onisdabird.
Zhu’s high school classmate Bei Zhicheng, who has been involved in the case since the very beginning, also launched a thread on the “Information on the Zhu Ling Case.”

“The first time I had my suspicion on Sun Wei was in 2002, and had never discussed it on the Internet, because it was not a pleasant memory. It is not my assumption. In fact, I got to know Sun Wei only because she was the only suspect revealed by the police to Zhu Ling’s parents. The police’s suspicion was based on facts presented by Tsinghua University: Sun Wei was the only student with access to thallium, and Zhu Ling’s back-up on the Folk Music Team,” Bei wrote in his thread.

Bei also listed the facts he got to know through different sources,

“According to a retired officer with the Beijing Municipal Police Station, Zhu Ling’s cup was found in a box under Sun Wei’ bed. ”

“The other thing I want to mention is the apathy shown by Zhu Ling’s classmates. Nobody offered a hand when I asked them for help in translating the emails on Zhu Ling’s illness we got from the foreign experts. ”

Bei also said Tsinghua University should bear the most responsibility for both Zhu Ling’s poisoning and the failure to find out the culprit.

A claimed classmate of Sun Wei replied:”Personally, I think Sun Wei is the most likely poisoner. Several of her supporters were her close friends, and not on good terms with Zhu Ling. Why is there nobody suggesting collective action? Why did some people keep the same stance and tone?”

Discussion is still going on, while the truth behind Zhu’s poisoning remains elusive. Nevertheless, reality is that Zhu’s health is deteriorating day by day and her family has been dragged into a plight due to the massive medical expense.

“We have to leave her one day. How can she, paralyzed in bed, continue her life without us?” Zhu’s mother sobbed.

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