The eldest brother of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng said on Wednesday he is suing the police and the local government that oversees his village in northeastern China for barging into his house unlawfully after his brother's escape.
Chen Guangfu told Reuters he was suing them for "scaling the walls of his home and for wrecking his home" just after midnight on April 27, the day after they discovered Chen Guangcheng had escaped.
Chen Guangfu's lawsuit could renew international focus on China's human rights and legal system and galvanise lawyers and rights advocates to push for the rule of law in China.
After breaking free from 19 months of harsh house imprisonment in April, Chen Guangcheng sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing, embarrassing the Chinese authorities and sparking a diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Washington. He is now studying law in New York.
Chen Guangfu, 55, said by telephone from his village of Dongshigu he believed the actions by the police and the officials were illegal.
Chinese courts rarely accept lawsuits filed by dissidents or their relatives, and when courts do they invariably find for the government, meaning Chen Guangfu's case is almost certainly doomed to failure.
Police in Yinan county could not be reached for comment. An official in the Shuanghou township government, which oversees the village, said she had no knowledge of the lawsuit.
The news comes after Chinese police sent the case of Chen Guangcheng's nephew, Chen Kegui, charged with intentional wounding, to the state prosecutor. Chen Guangcheng said the move paves the way for what he expects will be an unfair trial.
After police took Chen Guangfu into custody on April 27, a group of about 20 men led by a local official went to his home and beat his wife and son, Chen Guangfu said. It was around this time his son, Chen Kegui, took a kitchen knife and slashed three officials.
Chen Kegui, 32, was initially charged of "intentional homicide". On Tuesday, one of his lawyers, Si Weijiang, said both he and another lawyer, Ding Xikui, were again denied access to Chen.