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December 12, 2013

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Ex-soldier demands compensation after enforced demolition of his private museum

A FORMER soldier in Shanghai took the Minhang District government to court yesterday, demanding 211 million yuan (US$34.7 million) for the enforced demolition of his homestead and private museum.

Liu Guangjia, who is in his 70s, told Changning District People’s Court that the district government and a local real estate development company illegally demolished his 582 square meter homestead and collections of rare stones, antiques and bonsai built on a 4,800-square-meter fishpond he owned in Minhang on April 27 last year.

He said the enforced demolition had led to economic losses of more than 211.53 million yuan.

Liu said his museum, which had featured in the local media several times, was built in 1992 and open to visitors for free.

He asked for state compensation on August 23 last year, but his request was turned down by the Minhang government and he decided to sue.

The buildings were ordered to be dismantled to make way for real estate development, the Beijing Youth Daily reported. It said tens of people raided Liu’s museum that day, forced him and his wife to get in a car and later put them in a house while a team of some 100 workers dismantled the museum. A list showed it contained at least 20 wood carvings, 40 sets of red sandalwood furniture, 300 pieces of chinaware and calligraphy and painting works from the Ming and Qing dynasties, 400 jade objects, 2,300 bonsai and 40,000 rare stones.

In addition to compensation, Liu is demanding the return of money and valuables his family had stored in the buildings.

Video footage obtained by the Beijing newspaper showed that some demolition workers took items from the museum. One worker is seen asking his team leader if he can take some jade objects and the boss agrees.

A team leader in another video is seen telling his workers that he would take all the things they found, while the other says his workers could take everything except what is in a sitting room.

Liu’s son said that in addition to the missing items, 500,000 yuan in cash and a safe containing gold had been taken.

The Minhang government told the court that the demolition had been approved by district housing authorities and a court and was legal.

The structures dismantled were within an enforced removal area but Liu had refused to take them down. After the enforced demolition, it said it had asked Liu several times to retrieve his collections but Liu had ignored the notifications.

It said the workers who kept objects taken from the structures should be blamed for the loss of his valuables.

The government also claimed that there was a lack of evidence to back Liu’s claims.

The hearing continues today.


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