Charges dropped for Beijing police in death in custody case

Beijing prosecutors say they have dropped charges against five police officers over the death of a man who died in their custody, a 180-degree turn in a case that has sparked outrage in a country deeply suspicious of police abuse.

The Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate announced the decision on social media on Friday. It came six months after the prosecution and investigation agency declared that police had acted "improperly" during the detention of the 29-year-old environmentalist Lei Yang and arrested two officers on charges of negligence.

Lei died of suffocation in May while he was interrogated by police on suspicion of soliciting sex. His death sparked an outcry on social media and even in state-run outlets before prosecutors moved in June against the police officers, an unusual step in China.