[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Dec 17 12:48:44 CST 2005
Chinese party official in dock over rent-a-mob raid on villagers
A Chinese official who ordered a murderous attack on village protesters
was put on trial yesterday in the latest effort by Beijing to address the
grievances of the country's vast rural population.
He Feng, former Communist party secretary of Dingzhou city, in Hebei
province, is 1 of 27 defendants in the dock over last summer's armed
assault by hired thugs on peasants demonstrating against the seizure of
land for a power station.
6 people were killed in the gun and knife fight outside Shengyou village,
which was secretly filmed. Video of the clashes was leaked to the media.
Despite a history of cover-ups, the central government was forced to fire
Mr He and several other local officials who were accused of collaborating
with the power company to hire a 300-strong gang who tried to disperse the
Mr He and a contractor, Zhang Li, were the only named defendants in
domestic news reports. A Beijing newspaper said they were charged with
"intentionally inflicting injury upon others". If convicted, they could
face the death penalty.
Violent protests are becoming increasingly common in the world's most
populous nation as the government struggles to cope with a growing wealth
gap and rampant corruption. More than 74,000 disputes were reported last
year - many sparked by land seizure for development.
In Shengyou, the villagers had refused to accept an offer from Hebei
Guohua Power, a state-owned company that wanted to build a storage
facility on local land, 140 miles south-west of Beijing.
Although the municipal government approved the transfer of usage rights,
the farmers refused to budge.
There have been numerous similar cases. Earlier this month, paramilitary
troops in Dongzhou, a coastal village near Hong Kong, killed at least
three people when they fired on a group protesting against the
construction of a power plant.
Punishment in such cases has been meted out inconsistently and with little
transparency. Although video evidence ensured that officials involved in
the Shengyou case had to face justice in an open court, it is unclear
whether the same will be true in Dongzhou. The authorities have arrested
the paramilitary commander involved, but have forbidden the local media
from investigating the incident.
(source: The (UK) Guardian)
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