Protest in Shanghai over death of man after being taken by the police

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Dozens of people protested in the heart of China's commercial hub Shanghai on Saturday after the death of a petitioner following his alleged beating by the police.

Around 30 people marched to the main office building of the Shanghai government chanting slogans, under the watchful eye of a dozen uniformed police officers, an AFP journalist witnessed.

A participant said they were protesting over compensation payments for being evicted from their homes, as well as the death of a man named Shen Yong, who was locked in a dispute with the government over the demolition of his house.

Radio Free Asia and Internet postings, which could not be confirmed, said 55-year-old Mr Shen was taken to a police station on Thursday, but died shortly after returning home two hours later.

The Shanghai police and Mr Shen's family could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

The demonstrators, from at least two different districts in Shanghai, chanted: "Pay our money!"

"This is also about the Shen Yong affair," one protester, a middle-aged woman who declined to be named, told AFP.

Mr Shen's home in Shanghai's financial district of Pudong was demolished in 2008, the Radio Free Asia report said.

But the authorities accused him of squatting in replacement housing built on the site of his former home, it said.

Public protests are rare in Shanghai, but the city's rapid development has caused disputes over demolition of old homes and compensation payments for eviction.

Shanghai resettled more than 23,000 households in 2011, the latest official figures showed, down from a recent peak of over 80,000 in 2006.

Police herded the protesters onto the grounds of the city government compound to an office used to lodge complaints against officials, but did not appear to detain anyone.

But the police grabbed a young man to stop him from using his mobile phone to record images of the demonstration.