BEIJING (AFP) - A mentally ill Chinese man has been kept in a cage for more than a decade by his family after he beat a child to death, media reported on Monday, carrying images of him staring blankly though the bars.
Mr Wu Yuanhong, 42, was shown sitting on blankets in the narrow enclosure, his feet shackled with a heavy chain and wearing only a T-shirt and his underwear.
He was diagnosed as a schizophrenic at the age of 15 and in 2001, he beat a 13-year-old to death, the Information Daily newspaper said on its website.
Judicial authorities in Jiangxi province released him a year later as his illness meant he was not legally responsible for his actions, it said.
No independent confirmation of the circumstances was immediately available to AFP.
Mr Wu was placed in shackles after his release, but his mother Wang Muxiang built the cage after he escaped and walked around his home village of Shangfan scaring local residents, the report said.
Family members cried as they put him in the cage, the report added, but he escaped again and they were forced to build a stronger structure to hold him.
"My son may be insane, and beat someone to death, but he's still my son. To use my own hands to place him in a cage was very hard to take, like being stabbed with a knife," the paper quoted Madam Wang as saying.
She gives her son three meals a day, placing a cloth over the cage and providing a pan when he needs the toilet.
"Every time I delivered food, I would sit at his cage and cry," she reportedly said, adding: "Now my tears are dried up."
Many mentally ill people in China go without proper treatment due to a lack of resources and qualified professionals, especially in the countryside.
The Ministry of Health said in 2010 that there were only about 20,000 psychiatrists to serve the country's population of 1.35 billion, the state-run China Daily reported.
Authorities estimated in 2009 that about 170 million people had some form of mental illness, while more than 16 million suffered from severe mental health problems.
The Information Daily quoted local officials as saying they had supported Mr Wu's family with donations of oil and rice, adding Jiangxi had launched limited subsidies for poor families with mentally ill relatives.
An official at the police station in Nanyang, which covers Shangfan, told AFP he was not aware of the case.