Rubber bullet ruptured China fisherman’s heart

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Rubber bullet ruptured China fisherman’s heart

The Chinese fisherman killed during a clash with the Korean Coast Guard last week died from a heart rupture, according to autopsy results Saturday.

And even though the impact of a rubber bullet from a Coast Guard gun also broke at least one of the fisherman’s ribs, the officer who fired the gun was not overly close to the fisherman, but was a regulation eight to 10 meters (32 feet) away, the Coast Guard said.

On Tuesday, the Korean Coast Guard raided some 30 Chinese fishing vessels on the Korean side of the exclusive economic zone in the Yellow Sea about 90 kilometers northwest of Hong Island in Sinan County, South Jeolla.

The fishermen reportedly fought off the raid with lances, hacksaws and knives, and the 44-year-old fisherman surnamed Zhang was swinging a handsaw when he was shot on the left side of his chest with a rubber bullet by the Coast Guard.

After a preliminary examination of Zhang, the National Forensic Service said that the cause of his death was a two-millimeter rupture in the heart caused by a rib fractured by the strike of the rubber bullet shot by the Coast Guard.

“After the cardiac rupture, blood streamed out of the pericardium [the membrane that covers the heart] in a very short period of time,” said Choi Young-shik of the National Forensic Service.

The Coast Guard reiterated that they followed official guidelines and only shot from a distance of eight to 10 meters away.

After he was shot, Zhang was immediately transferred to a nearby hospital by helicopter but was pronounced dead on arrival.

The forensic service said Zhang had no injuries on his head or limbs and had not been suffering from any chronic disease, according to the autopsy results.

The autopsy was originally scheduled for last Thursday but was delayed in order to get permission from his family and also for his wife to gain entry to Korea. Zhang’s wife arrived in Korea Saturday.

The National Forensic Service said that more detailed results will be announced within 10 days after further tests on Zhang’s body.

Arrest warrants were issued for 11 other Chinese fishermen, including the captain, for illegal fishing.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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