Chinese official declare Australian man slain in clash after a dice game

A brawl in the eastern China city of Fuzhou in which an aspiring Australian musician was killed appeared to have resulted from an argument between his friend and a Chinese woman, a Chinese official said Friday.

Richard Gribble, 23, died of a stab wound after he and two friends were attacked by at least five people late on Feb. 4, according to Australian media reports and an official from the Fuzhou Municipal Foreign Affairs Office.

Early reports saying the attack was racially motivated appeared to be untrue, said the official, who identified himself only by his surname, Chen.

That evening, Gribble and his rock band had played a show at a bar in a district of the coastal city frequented by foreigners. Gribble and his two bandmates later joined an American friend, who was drinking and playing dice with a Chinese woman and her Taiwanese boyfriend, Chen said.

At some point, one of Gribble's friends, identified as Nick, made comments perceived as insulting by the woman, identified only as Ms. Shi, after losing to her at dice, Chen said.

Angered, Shi called on others to help and as Gribble and his two friends were leaving, the group blocked their path and attacked Nick, Chen said. Gribble apparently attempted to intervene and was stabbed by the woman's boyfriend, identified only by his surname, Liu, said the official. He died shortly afterward in hospital.

Chen said his office was informed of the case on Sunday. Four people have been taken into custody over the attack, which remains under investigation, he said. Gribble's parents arrived in Fuzhou on Wednesday to claim the body, Chen said.

Australian media said Gribble was a resident of Talbot in the southern state of Victoria , and arrived in Fuzhou in mid-2004 to join his father who was working in a local university. While teaching English, he formed a rock band with which he had hoped to tour around China , they said.

Attacks on foreigners are rare in China , which is highly sensitive to its international image and has in past meted out heavier than usual punishments for such crimes, reports the AP.


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