A local court has been asked to make public the events surrounding the violent raid by local authorities on the house of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng's nephew Chen Kegui, who has been detained since May and faces criminal charges.
Chen Kegui had defended his family from an allegedly brutal attack by local officials who staged the raid after discovering his uncle's daring escape in April from 18 months of house arrest in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, according to family members.
Chen Kegui's father Chen Guangfu said Tuesday that he had filed a request with the Intermediate People's Court in Shandong's Yinan county, seeking all information about the attack and that it be made public.
"I am calling on the court to order them to make public the events of that day, when they smashed their way into our home with no legal basis to do so," said Chen Guangfu, who is the brother of Chen Guangcheng, now studying law in a New York university.
"They have received my application, and I will wait to see what their response is in seven days' time."
Chen Guangfu had previously said that he would file a lawsuit against the Yinan county public security bureau and Shuanghou township government for "illegally intruding into private property."
However, he appears to have modified his stance: "I feel that if I set my sights too high, they will think it's too sensitive, so I'm starting small," he said.
"I want the case to be accepted, first of all."
Midnight attackFollowing a hastily negotiated study trip to New York that came after seeking refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in April, Chen Guangcheng also said his nephew was the victim of vengeful officials incensed at the blind activist's escape.
In an interview in August, Chen Guangfu said police and officials "illegally burst into my house on the night of April 26 and ruthlessly beat up me, my son Kegui, and Kegui’s wife, who was wounded by the attackers."
He said the attackers were shouting to each other to beat his son to death, so his son picked up a kitchen knife in self-defense, injuring Zhang Jian, the head of Shuanghou township, and two other attackers.
He was initially arrested on suspicion of “intentional homicide," though the charges were later revised to "intentional injury."
Chen Kegui's case has been shrouded in secrecy since Chen Guangcheng's arrival in the U.S. in May, with many lawyers reporting official harassment after they tried to advise or represent him.
However, his case was passed to the state prosecutor's office earlier this month, and the homicide charges filed against him earlier have been withdrawn.
Beijing-based rights lawyer Ding Xikui, who was hired by the Chen family to represent Chen Kegui, said his client had not been informed that the family had found a lawyer, and had been allocated two legal aid lawyers by the authorities.
"We went to the procuratorate [on Tuesday] and we found out that they had already allocated two lawyers to defend Chen Kegui...back before the case was even passed to them," Ding said. "So they treated these lawyers as if they were the appointed lawyers.... I think that was very wrong of them; you could even say it was illegal."
"The procuratorate told me that they haven't told Chen Kegui that his family had instructed a lawyer," he said. "They are hiding this from him."
"We will report this to higher-level departments," he said. "Chen Kegui has the right to choose his legal representative."
Nanjing-based rights activist He Peirong, who was instrumental in helping Chen Guangcheng reach Beijing safely after his escape, said she was also planning to lodge a complaint over her alleged abduction and robbery at the hands of hired thugs guarding Chen after she tried to visit him in his home village of Dongshigu.
She said that she was also looking for a lawyer, preferably "a tough guy who isn't afraid of getting beaten up or receiving threats."
"I'm pretty sure that once this case is filed, it will be long and slow journey," He said.
Chen Guangcheng's daring escape from his closely guarded home and subsequent flight to the U.S. Embassy, where he sought refuge for nearly a week, came just ahead of annual strategic dialogues between U.S. and Chinese officials, prompting a diplomatic crisis and frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations.
The diplomatic crisis was defused after Chen was allowed to fly to New York, where he is now a special student at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute of New York University.
He has accused Beijing of failing to honor its pledge to investigate abuses that he and his family were subjected to in China.
The blind activist has said that he and his family experienced illegal detention and brutal beatings while under house arrest and that Beijing had promised him it would sack officials responsible for the mistreatment.
Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese service and by Xin Yu for the Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.