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Miaoli magistrate confronted over Dapu man's death

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The magistrate of Miaoli County was confronted by angry family members of a man who died yesterday in a suspected act of suicide two months after the local government demolished his pharmacy to make way for a public project.

The county chief, Liu Cheng-hung, showed up to extend his condolences but was hit by a shoe thrown at him from a crowd of people gathering outside the former residence of the dead man, Chang Sen-wen, in Dapu Village.

The angry family shut the door to their home and refused to let Liu in. They called him a “murderer.”

“Liu Cheng-hung ruined my family,” said Chang's wife, Peng Hsiu-chun, lying on the ground and crying bitterly as she saw her husband's body that remained at the site where it had been found earlier.

Chang, in his 60s, was found drowned in a water channel under a bridge several hours after his family had reported him missing, police said.

Chang's is the second death related to the Miaoli government's demolition of structures in Dapu to make way for construction of a new campus of the Hsinchu Science Park. In August 2010, a 73-year-old Dapu woman killed herself to protest against the Liu administration's decision to tear down her home, among others.

Chang's pharmacy was one of four structures that had remained this summer after others in the neighborhood had already been removed.

The four families' defense of their properties had won support from many activists, students and scholars who staged round-the-clock sit-ins at the site to protect the structures.

But the county government mounted an “ambush” in July, succeeding in tearing down the structures when most of the demonstrators had gone to Taipei to stage a protest.

“I have only my life left,” a tearful Chang told reporters this summer after his pharmacy was razed.

Chang's son, Yuan-hao, said his father became very depressed after losing his pharmacy. He sought medical treatment and spent three weeks in a hospital.

The county chief said he was sad to hear about Chang's death. He urged police and prosecutors to quickly determine the cause of the death.

Police said no visible external injuries were found on Chang's body, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

Cheng Wen-chin, a ward chief in Dapu, said the neighbors were shocked by the news of Chang's death.

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Members of Chang Sen-wen's family mourn his death at the site where his body was found in Dapu, Miaoli County, yesterday. It is believed he committed suicide because his pharmacy had been demolished by the county government. (CNA)

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