Driver found dead after passenger murder in China carpool case


Beijing (AFP)

The suspect in the murder of a passenger in a case involving Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has been found dead, state media reported Saturday, after the killing of the flight attendant transfixed the nation.

The 21-year-old woman, identified by police only by her surname Li, was killed the night of May 6, according to police in the central city of Zhengzhou, with state media reporting that she was found half-naked and stabbed at least 20 times.

The body of the suspected murderer, a 27-year-old man surnamed Liu, was discovered Saturday in a river in the city, Xinhua news reported, citing local police. DNA tests had confirmed its identity.

Li, who worked for Chinese budget carrier Lucky Air, had ordered a ride using Didi's Hitch service, which pairs up commuters heading in the same direction.

The case has gone viral on Chinese social media and was the top-trending item on the Twitter-like Weibo service on Friday, generating more than 85 million reads and thousands of comments.

Didi, which issued an apology Thursday, said in a statement Friday that the suspect was driving under his father's Hitch account.

Didi later said it would suspend the service nationwide for one week while it attempted to address issues that had allowed him to use the account.

A prior complaint about "verbal sexual harassment" had been lodged against the account, Didi said. Its customer service department repeatedly tried to contact the account holder to follow up on the matter but was unsuccessful.

It was the second known murder involving Hitch. In 2016, a 24-year-old woman in southern China was robbed and murdered by a Hitch driver, who was also 24. He was subsequently apprehended.

Didi Chuxing calls itself the world's leading mobile transportation platform, saying in March that it had 21 million drivers and more than 450 million users across its various services.