Official suspended after farmer dies in demolition

Updated: 2010-03-31 01:45
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NANJING - A township government head in east China has been suspended from his post after a farmer died and his father was injured when they set themselves on fire to prevent their pig farm from being demolished.

Zhou Wenjun, head of the government of Huangchuan township, Donghai county of Jiangsu province, was suspended for improper handling of the self-immolation incident during the forced immolation on Saturday, the county government said in a statement Tuesday.

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The pig farm of the farmer named Tao Huixi and the houses of five other fellow villagers were due to be torn down to make way for a highway.

The houses of five other villagers had been demolished before the highway project started in the second half of 2009, but Tao had refused to accept a compensation of about 75,000 yuan ($11,000) offered by the township government.

Tao's family said the compensation was too low and would not move. Tao and the township government officials had failed to reach an agreement after repeated negotiations.

Tao locked himself and his 92-year-old father in their house and set themselves on fire when township government workers led by Zhou went there for a forced demolition Saturday.

Tao's relatives said government workers subsequently broke into the house to pull them out, but they meanwhile continued the demolition.

Li Baofu, a county government spokesman earlier said government workers had done so to "prevent secondary disasters."

Currently, Tao's father is being treated at a local hospital, and he is in stable condition, the county government said Tuesday.

Local authorities are further investigating the incident, it said.