A local Communist Party official and 26 other people have gone on trial on charges of organizing a bloody attack on protesting villagers that killed six people, the government said Friday. The announcement of the trial in the June attack near Beijing came as the government tried to diffuse anger in a separate clash last week in a southern village in which police opened fire on protesters, killing at least three people.
In the June conflict in Hebei province, as many as 300 men with knives and guns attacked villagers who were protesting the seizure of land in the village of Shengyou for construction of a power plant. Dozens of people also were injured and more than 100 people were detained after news of the violence became public.
He Feng, former Communist Party secretary of the city of Dingzhou, where Shengyou is located, was among those who went on trial Thursday in the nearby city of Handan, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The area is about 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Beijing in Hebei province.
The defendants were charged with causing "intentional injuries," Xinhua said. It said Zhang Li, a contractor, was accused of plotting the attack with her husband. The report did not identify the other defendants or say how they were involved. More than 200 people attended the session at the Intermediate People's Court in Handan, including families of the victims and the accused, Xinhua said. It wasn't clear how long the trial would last.
A woman who answered the phone at the court said the trial was in session Friday but she wouldn't give any details. Such confrontations are increasing in intensity and frequency as local authorities confiscate land for construction of factories, power plants, shopping malls and other projects.
Farmers often complain they are paid little or nothing and sometimes accuse local officials of stealing compensation money. In the attack last week, witnesses say police opened fire on people protesting the seizure of land for a power plant in Dingzhou, a coastal village northeast of Hong Kong. The government says three people were killed, while residents put the death toll at up to 20.
The government has detained the commander of the forces that fired on the demonstrators. Tensions had been simmering for more than a year, witnesses said. In Shengyou, villagers were unhappy over what they said was inadequate compensation for seized land, also for a power plant. They occupied the proposed power plant site in 2004, according to state media, reports the AP. N.U.