CHINA> Regional
Court begins to try people for violent protest
Updated: 2008-11-06 20:03

WENG'AN, Guizhou  -- A Chinese local court on Thursday began to hear cases related to a violent protest at which government offices and vehicles were burned and police injured.

It happened in Weng'an County of the southwestern Guizhou Province in June.

The People's Court of Weng'an County heard testimony from a suspect named Xiao Chunping who was accused of disturbing social order, a source of the court told Xinhua.

Xiao allegedly stopped a police motorcade on its way to maintain order in the area on June 28. It was after the protest erupted. He climbed over vehicles and instigated the crowd, causing three police cars to be burned.

The prosecution noted that Xiao served seven years in jail for theft. He was released in 2004.

So far, the court has not reached a verdict in Xiao's case.

It held five other similar trials on Thursday. The court did not say how many other many people would be prosecuted for protest violence.

Up to 30,000 people were involved in the protest. It was prompted by a controversial police report involving the death of 17-year-old Li Shufen. Her family and relatives contend she was raped and killed, while an autopsy said she drowned.

The protest turned violent and rioters mobbed government office buildings. About 160 offices and more than 40 vehicles were torched.

More than 150 police and protesters were injured. No deaths were reported.

Police believed 134 people committed the destruction. Days after the protest, they took 59 people into custody.

Provincial Party chief Shi Zongyuan admitted there were social grievances in the county before the protest broke out. People were upset by mining disputes, demolition of homes for public projects, relocation of residents for reservoir construction and other issues.

Shi also blamed local authorities for long-standing disregard of rampant crime in the county and incompetence in maintaining public security.

The county's Party secretary and head of government were sacked after the violence.