British police quiz four over brutal van murder
British police were interviewing four men Thursday on suspicion of the murder of a man whose body was found wrapped in bags in the back of a van, reportedly after he was tortured.
Officers in Sunningdale, southeast England, stopped the van on Wednesday after a tip-off, causing four men inside to try to escape. Police arrested them before searching the vehicle, when they found a man in the back.
The unidentified victim, who was thought to be his 40s, was seriously injured but "breathing shallowly" when he was found, police said. However, despite attempts to revive him he was pronounced dead at the scene.
In what is being viewed as a possible gangland killing, eyewitnesses said the victim was wrapped in bags and one police officer at the scene remarked that he appeared to have been tortured.
Bystanders said a sledgehammer was recovered from the van.
Local butcher Paul Malone, 45, told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "I saw police pull a body out of the van. It was wrapped in a sack, sort of like a builder's rubble bag and you could see it was covered in blood.
A police statement said: "Officers from Thames Valley major crime unit will continue to interview four men today arrested on suspicion of murder yesterday in Sunningdale." The men are aged 24, 25, 54 and 56.
Speaking Wednesday, Police Superintendent Richard Humphrey admitted it had taken his officers some time to find the victim as their immediate priority was to arrest the four suspects, one of whom tried to flee.
"This injured man was not readily visible from outside the vehicle and was only found when a thorough search was undertaken. Despite the efforts of the officers and of the paramedics this man has now died," he said.
© 2010 AFP