A bookseller whose disappearance prompted fears in Hong Kong that he may have been taken by Chinese agents has mysteriously reappeared in China, claiming that he had voluntarily turned himself in to the authorities for a drink-driving accident that resulted in a death 11 years ago.

Gui Minhai, who vanished from his apartment in Thailand last October, "voluntarily" returned to China to answer a conviction for killing a student in 2003, according to state media.

"I am returning to surrender by personal choice. It has nothing to do with anyone," Gui said in a China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast.

 

"This is a personal responsibility that I ought to bear."

Gui's daughter, Angela, who is based in Britain, told Reuters news agency late on Sunday that she could not confirm what was being reported, but she still believed her father had been abducted and his detention was related to his work.

"There's got to be a reason it happened now and that the others were taken as well," she said.

Separately, Bei Ling, a close friend of Gui and president of the Independent Chinese Pen Centre, told the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based newspaper, on Monday that he doubts the story of CCTV, and what had happened was an "abduction by a country".

Gui, a naturalised Swedish citizen, is one of five members to have gone missing from a Hong Kong bookstore that specialises in selling gossipy political books on China's ruling Communist Party leaders.

The disappearances, and China's silence, have prompted fears that mainland Chinese authorities may been using shadowy tactics that erode the "one country, two systems" formula under which Hong Kong has been governed since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Last week thousands marched in Hong Kong, a special autonomous territory, to condemn the disappearances.

The five missing booksellers include Lee Bo, a British passport holder who disappeared from Hong Kong at the end of last month.

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In recent years, China's state media have publicised a string of what are presented as confessions made by prominent suspects.

Critics say these accounts deprive the accused of the right to a fair trial.

Sweden is continuing "to seek clarifications from the Chinese authorities" on Gui's case, said Gabriella Augustsson, head of public diplomacy for the Swedish embassy in Beijing.

Angela, Gui's daugther, said she believed the Swedish authorities were doing everything they could to help with the case.

It was not possible to contact Gui and it remains unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Hong Lei, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, declined to elaborate on the case at a daily news briefing.

"As for the relevant case, the media reports are already quite detailed," Hong said, adding he had nothing new to say.

Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's chief executive, said on Monday that the government was taking the case seriously and would continue to investigate the circumstances of those missing.

His comments came after a Hong Kong-based Chinese official expressed concern on Friday at the disappearances but said that investigations were "complicated".

Source: Agencies