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27 officials tied to illegal demolition

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated : 2016-07-14

Negligence, abuse of power blamed for death of 60-year-old woman; 4 face criminal charges

A number of officials in Central China's Hunan province have been investigated and punished after a recent illegal demolition resulted in a woman's death.

The publicity authority of Changsha, the provincial capital, posted a statement on its micro blog on Tuesday saying that 27 officials in the city's Yuelu district are suspected of wrongdoing in the house removal, which took place last week. Seven are suspected of negligence or abusing power and are under investigation.

The officials include the district's Party chief, Zhou Zhikai, who was given a serious warning for providing insufficient education to grassroots officers, and the district's governor Liu Hui, who received an administrative punishment for failing to play a proper role in the supervision for an extended period, the micro blog said.

The government attributed the woman's death to negligent enforcement. The city's prosecutors have filed a case to investigate seven individuals, including the head of the district's Chashazi village. Four officials who appeared at the demolition scene are suspected of homicide without malice or premeditation were criminally detained, it said.

The government's response and related punishments were made after the body of a 60-year-old resident, Gong Xuehui, was found in the debris. Some housing in the district was torn down last Thursday. News of her death stirred public concern.

Crews destroyed houses on June 16.

The woman's family, together with 10 other families, refused to vacate their apartments and intended to ask for more money as compensation in a negotiation with the committee in early June. Those talks failed.

But the government verified in the post that the demolition had been approved illegally.

Bi Wenqiang, a Beijing lawyer specializing in disputes relating to demolition, said the government's quick response should be applauded, but added that demolitions nationwide need attention.

"Some local governments still violently destroy houses because of interest in land development," Bi said. "Every law enforcer must face serious punishment if lines are crossed in demolitions, and investigations must be conducted thoroughly."