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    Jan 19, 2016

    Missing HK bookseller 'turns himself in over death of student'


    THE mystery behind the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers has deepened following a broadcast in China showing one of them claiming he had returned to the mainland to surrender himself over a fatal drink-driving accident that took place in 2003.

    But many Hong Kong legislators and commentators are sceptical of the "confession" by Gui Minhai, which was aired by flagship China Central Television (CCTV) on Sunday.

    They pointed out that the 52-year-old did not explain why he had gone missing in October in Thailand, the Ming Pao Daily News reported.

    They also wondered why he did not touch on the disappearance of the other four booksellers, who are his business partners.

    Gui, a China-born Swedish national and major shareholder of Mighty Current publishing company, which specialises in books banned in the mainland, tearfully admitted in the broadcast that he had fled in 2004 from a suspended two-year jail term passed by a Chinese court.

    He had been found guilty of killing a 23-year-old female university student while drink driving in Zhejiang province's Ningbo city in 2003, according to the broadcast.

    Gui said the psychological pressure of running away from the law and being unable to make amends to the victim's family made him finally decide to return to China in October to give himself up.

    A Xinhua report said Gui refuted speculation that he had been kidnapped and stressed that his return to China was voluntary.

    Gui's daughter released a statement after the broadcast, saying she could not confirm whether the drink-driving incident did take place, reported Hong Kong's Apple Daily.

    The Swedish government said it will continue to seek the facts surrounding Gui's detention, although in the broadcast the bookseller urged Stockholm not to interfere.

    Meanwhile, Lee Bo, the last of the five to disappear, was reported to have sent a third letter to his wife in Hong Kong, telling her he was in the mainland assisting in the investigation into Gui's crimes.

    "He (Gui) has been involved in other crimes (besides the drink-drinking case). He is a morally unacceptable person. This time, he has caused me trouble," the Sing Tao Daily reported, quoting the contents of the letter from the 65-year-old who disappeared on Dec 30.

    Lee and the other three booksellers who also disappeared in October are linked to the Mighty Current or its retail outlet, the Causeway Bay Bookshop.

    The disappearances have sparked speculation in Hong Kong that they were kidnapped and taken to China for churning out books harmful to its image and interests.