Authorities in the eastern province of Shandong have rejected a lawsuit filed by blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng's brother, who says officials invaded his home and attacked his family following Chen's daring escape from house arrest.
Chen Guangcheng's brother, Chen Guangfu, filed a lawsuit with the Intermediate People's Court in Shandong's Yinan county last week, calling for official transparency over the raid, which prompted the detention of his son, Chen Kegui, after he fought back to protect his family.
But the court rejected the case on Friday, he said.
"They said there was insufficient evidence," Chen Guangfu said. "They said the materials we submitted didn't add up to proof of the incident we were describing."
But he said he believed there was plenty of evidence to support his case.
"There is a lot of evidence," he said. "A police officer from Yinan county smashed up our television, and was held in administrative detention for five days."
"He admitted to using a wooden truncheon to do it, and when they left our house, they left the truncheons behind," Chen Guangfu added. "Then there was the official who got injured [by Chen Kegui] and a lot of neighbors who heard Chen Kegui's mother crying 'Save us!'."
Lawsuits submitted by dissidents or their families are rarely accepted by Chinese courts, but Chen Guangcheng's flight to the U.S. Embassy in April sparked subsequent diplomatic negotiations at which the blind activist said Beijing had promised to bring those who attacked his family to justice.
Chen Guangfu, who has already toned down his lawsuit after taking legal advice, said he had instructed his lawyer to appeal the decision.
"I believe that the actions of the Shuanghou township government have violated my legitimate rights and interests," he said.
"But they don't accept the existence of an illegal act in the first place."
Chen Kegui has been detained since the allegedly brutal attack by local officials on his family home, although charges against him have been downgraded from "intentional homicide" to "intentional injury" in the wake of his uncle's highly publicized escape.
The raid on the family came when local officials—who had hired hundreds of local people to keep watch on Chen Guangcheng and his family—discovered the blind activist was nowhere to be seen, following his nighttime, solo escape in April from 18 months of house arrest.
Chen Guangcheng, now a visiting law student in New York, says that his nephew is being held "hostage" by the authorities to ensure his good behavior while overseas.
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 later modified his stance to avoid seeming too politically sensitive.
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.
On Friday, Chen Guangfu said there were a number of villagers in the vicinity during the attack, but that the authorities had sealed off the family home and wouldn't allow neighbors to approach.
"The police posted guards outside our home, and there were also surveillance cameras outside, so the whole thing should have been caught on camera," he said.
"A lot of people got up at about 1:00 a.m. because they could hear Chen Kegui's mother screaming for help, but the police blocked their way so they couldn't get close," Chen Guangfu said.
"However, a lot of people in the village know that something [bad] happened that night, and that is evidence."
Shrouded in secrecy
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.
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 Guangcheng 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 Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.