Shanghai district denies petitioner beaten to death

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Local authorities in Shanghai have denied that a petitioner was beaten to death by local police over a property dispute.

The response came after dozens protested in the heart of the commercial hub at the weekend to demand compensation for being evicted from their homes and over the death of 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 last week Shen, 55, was taken to a police station on Thursday but died shortly after returning home two hours later.

Shen's home in Shanghai's financial district of Pudong was demolished in 2008, but authorities accused him of squatting in replacement housing built on the same site, the Radio Free Asia report said.

The Pudong district government said Shen died of a sudden illness and no external injuries had been found.

"The examination found no trace of injuries caused by external force, the mark on his chest was an indentation caused during life-saving attempts," it said on its verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

In late May, Shen occupied a residential unit in the district and the owner filed multiple complaints to local police, according to the Pudong authorities.

Shen experienced a "sudden discomfort" when property management staff sought to evict him on Thursday and died later after medical rescue efforts were unsuccessful, it said.

"The public security bureau has investigated and found no verbal or physical conflicts between Shen Yong and other people," the weekend weibo post said, adding Shen's family could request an autopsy.

Shanghai's rapid development has led to disputes over demolitions of old homes and compensation payments.

The city resettled more than 23,000 households in 2011, the latest official figures showed, down from more than 80,000 in 2006.

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