Chinese girl, 6, beaten to death with plank while playing with cousin

A six-year-old girl in northwest China was beaten to death while playing with her 12-year-old cousin, local police have said.

Because the boy is below the age of criminal responsibility he will face no further action from the authorities.

A notice issued by police in Yongning county in Ningxia region on Wednesday said their investigations had concluded that the girl, identified only by her surname Li, was playing with the boy and his seven-year-old brother when she was knocked unconscious after falling from a climbing frame.

The notice said the boy had been afraid that his cousin would tell his parents and hit her repeatedly with a wooden plank.

The girl's family reported her missing on Saturday evening after she went out with her cousins, who were regular playmates, according to a Beijing News report.

The following day police found her body in a bag at an abandoned house owned by the boy's family, Thepaper.cn reported.

In a short video clip posted on the website Pear video on Wednesday, the girl's grandmother said that the girl had suffered "horrible" injuries to her head and neck. 

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"[Police] said she had been beaten but the weapon has not yet been found."

The police investigation concluded that the case was one of murder, and determined that the 12-year-old had carried out the killing but could not be charged with any offence because of his age.

Under Article 17 of China's criminal code, children aged under 14 cannot be held criminally responsible for any offence.

Children aged 14 and 15 can only be charged with the most serious crimes of violence such as murder, while minors aged 16 or over can be held criminally liable.

A number of previous killings involving children aged under 14 have prompted a national debate about lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, including the case of a 12-year-old in Hunan who was released without charge after stabbing his mother to death after she whipped him for smoking.

In March a 13-year-old boy was found to have hacked his mother to death after an argument at their home in Jianhu county in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post