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Govt seeks confirmation in rape

Updated: 2013-11-14 01:22
By XU JINGXI in Guangzhou ()

Australian paper names Chinese man

A department of the Guangdong provincial government is following up on reports that the deputy head of a subordinate institute has been charged with raping a university student tour guide in Australia.

"We are in no position to confirm it at the moment. Someone from the provincial department is following up. But you'd better check with the institute," a woman from the HR division of the department of housing and urban-rural development of Guangdong province told China Daily by phone on Wednesday.

Song Jingsong, a 43-year-old Chinese man, has been reporting daily to police in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, since his arrest and extradition from New South Wales three months ago on charges that include two counts of digital rape, according to The Age newspaper in Melbourne.

Southern Metropolitan Daily reported in Guangzhou on Tuesday that Song is the deputy head of the Guangdong Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute, a public institution subordinate to the provincial department of housing and urban-rural development.

According to Southern Metropolitan, an anonymous official from the institute "confirmed" Song's identity. The official reportedly added that Song went to Australia in a private capacity in August on a trip the institute did not arrange, and that it has since lost contact with him.

The provincial department of housing and urban-rural development was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying the deputy head's absence didn't arouse attention because he reported to the institute he "had a traffic accident and needed time to handle it".

The institute's website lists a Song Jingsong as the contact person for the urban development center. China Daily called the institute's HR department on Wednesday but the man answering the phone said, "No comment" when asked if the contact person is the suspect in Australia.

The provincial department of housing and urban-rural development told China Daily on Wednesday "no official response" is available yet.

According to the article in The Age, the suspect is the head of a Chinese government urban planning institute. Steve Butcher, who wrote the article, told China Daily that Song is charged with four offences — two of rape and two of indecent assault, all said to have been committed on Aug 17 and 18.

Song was granted bail in August but had to surrender his passport and was ordered to remain in Australia.

He appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Nov 7 to request his bail conditions be changed to allow him to return to China on condition he report daily in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, and return once a month to Victoria.

Magistrate Donna Bakos heard Song was prepared to put up a $500,000 cash deposit and two friends offered a further $150,000 to ensure he obeyed his bail conditions.

Detective Senior Constable Ross Waring opposed Song's application on the grounds that China's policy is not to extradite its nationals so "there is no way for us to bring him back" if he remained in China, according to The Age.

Huang Feng, director of the research center of international criminal law at Beijing Normal University's College for Criminal Law Science, said Waring was correct.

"However, if Song is convicted of the crimes, he will still be prosecuted for his criminal liability in China according to the country's law," Huang said.

Li Wenfang contributed to this story.