Veteran Who Killed Thugs Struggles for Lawyer

December 30, 2013 Updated: December 30, 2013

After defending his home from armed thugs, a Chinese veteran has been taken into police custody and his family denied access to a lawyer. 

Fan Mugen, a 65-year-old, staunchly resisted the demolition his home in the city of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Neighbors said that his home was the only one left standing in the village, which had been targeted for development by local officials. Typically in China, officers of the regime forcibly evict residents and demolish their houses to make way for real estate developments, from which they often profit personally.

Local residents in Suzhou have gone to great lengths to defend Fan and his family. Over 50 of them went to a hospital in the city last week to visit Fan’s wife, who was injured by the men that tried to evict the family. Police prevented the group from visiting the wife, Gu Panzhen

The home invasion took place in Dec. 3, when ten unidentified persons forcibly entered Fan’s home, beating him, his wife, and his son. After unsuccessful attempts to contact the police, the 65-year-old Fan used a fruit knife to defend his family, killing two of the assailants. The men were believed to have been dispatched by local officials.

According to Southern Metropolis Daily, the dispute between Fan and local authorities has been going on for nearly a decade. He began to petition in 2004 and has gone to Beijing to petition two times this year. Fan has said that he was forced to sign a demolition agreement in last November.

Li Guobei, one of the attorneys for the family, said that the matter of legal representation mostly concerned the issue of demolition rather than the killings. She believes that Chinese citizens have the right to defend their legal assets, however.

Netizens have compared the incident to that of Xia Junfeng, a street vendor from northeast China who was executed for killing two urban enforcement officials, known as chengguan. Chengguan are notorious for their brutality against China’s urban poor. In a demonstration of the general dislike for members of this profession, Xia was hailed as a hero for killing the two officers.