A senior police officer in China could receive the death penalty after he killed five people and injured another three in a traffic accident that sparked violent protests, according to state media.
Wang Yinpeng was allegedly drunk when he collided with two streetlights in the central province of Henan on Saturday, which fell on a group of migrant workers waiting to catch a bus, the Global Times newspaper said.
Wang, head of the police station in Liangzhu township, has been charged with “endangering public security by dangerous means” and could be given the death sentence if convicted, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Migrant workers waiting to catch a bus to the eastern province of Zhejiang to pick oranges started to protest after police ordered a funeral home to remove the bodies from the scene, reports said.
Fearing police were trying to destroy evidence, the workers smashed several police cars and hearses and riot police were called to “maintain order”, the Global Times said.
Witnesses reportedly found a box of baijiu, a potent Chinese liquor, several knives and a police uniform in Wang’s car.
Gruesome photos published by state media appear to show dozens of people standing around a severely battered police car and at least two people crushed underneath a streetlight.
The Runan county government and police declined to comment when contacted by AFP because the accident was under investigation.
It was the second violent protest in China in less than a week.
Hundreds of people clashed with police and smashed cars in eastern China after protests over taxes turned violent on Thursday.
Several police were hurt in the riots, which began as a protest by business owners over taxes in the eastern city of Huzhou in Zhejiang.
Mass protests are not uncommon in China as people, many left behind by the country’s economic boom, take to the streets to air their grievances.