21 Jul 2013

Six held after death of watermelon man

9:00 am on 21 July 2013

Six urban security personnel have been detained by police investigating the death of a fruit seller in southern China.

Deng Zhengjia, 56, died on Wednesday in Chenzhou City, Hunan.

Citing Mr Deng's niece, Xinhua news agency reported he was hit with a weight from a set of scales after a row with chengguan officials.

The chengguan are being held on suspicion of intentionally harming others.

The BBC reports chengguan support the police in tackling low-level crime in cities. They are unpopular with the public since a series of high-profile violent incidents.

Linwu county said in a statement said the incident started when Mr Deng and his wife tried to sell home-grown watermelons at a scenic riverside spot without a licence.

Four watermelons were confiscated and the couple were asked to sell their melons elsewhere. Trouble began when the officers encountered them again 50 minutes later, the statement said.

''The dispute ... became a physical conflict, and in the process Deng Zhengjia suddenly collapsed and died," it added.