Autopsy ordered for Hunan fruit seller

Updated: 2013-07-19 00:56

By Feng Zhiwei and Jin Haixing (China Daily)

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An autopsy on Thursday will reveal the cause of death of a local fruit seller who died during a fight with local officials.

The family of the 56-year-old man, Deng Zhengjia, demanded the autopsy from authorities in Linwu county, Hunan province, after micro-bloggers and witnesses alleged the man's death was due to severe beatings from urban administration officers, or chengguan.

"The government will deal with the case according to the law based on the autopsy and investigation results," He Zunqing, a top government official in Linwu, told China Daily.

At a news conference held on Thursday, He said an investigation is still under way, but so far no evidence has been found to indicate Deng was killed by the officers.

He apologized to the public for the death and said investigators will be supervised by a disciplinary inspection team.

He did not say when the results of the autopsy would be released.

On Wednesday morning, Deng and his wife Huang Xixi, from Nanqiang township, were fined by urban administration officers for selling watermelons on the street.

As the couple tried to move their fruit stall, several officers allegedly attacked Deng, according to micro-bloggers.

One officer allegedly struck him with a scale used to weigh fruit, which the family and witnesses said caused Deng's death.

However, the local government said in a statement on Wednesday that Deng "suddenly fell down and died".

Deng's wife was also injured and is being treated in a local hospital.

Deng's family refused to take his body from police on Thursday morning, demanding that officials perform an autopsy.

According to local media, a fight ensued, and several villagers and family members were injured.

The case stirred massive discussion online among micro-bloggers, who were the first to report the incident.

Tian Guangzhou, a chengguan officer in Jishou, Hunan province, told China Daily that many vendors sell watermelons on streets in the summer but violate the city management law, which requires vendors to sell in government-approved marketplaces.

In order to protect the interests of the watermelon farmers, chengguan in Jishou set up 11 temporary markets for fruit sellers and the move so far has effectively solved the problem of illegal operation, Tian said.