07/09/2020, 14.42
CHINA
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Family slams authorities for silence over the COVID-19 pandemic that killed relative in Wuhan

Zhang Hai brought his sick father from Shenzhen to Wuhan during the outbreak. Nobody had warned them of the danger. After he complained, police placed him under surveillance.

Wuhan (AsiaNews/Stand News) – Zhang Hai, the son of a man who died from COVID-19 in Wuhan, has filed a complaint against the government for covering up the seriousness of the pandemic.

In his lawsuit, he is demanding 2 million RMB (US$ 285,000) in damages and wants an investigation of officials for dereliction of duty.

The death of his father, Zhang Lifa, was reported in the media, but his complaint is something new, and dates back to a few weeks ago. So far, Zhang Hai's brave move has not been successful.

On 17 June he received a phone call from the Wuhan Intermediate Court, informing him that his lawsuit did not meet all the conditions for trial. Since he filed his case, he has been harassed and come under police surveillance.

Despite this, Zhang Hai has decided not to give up, even if "the rule of law in China is obscure". He told the Apple Daily that “my father was killed by someone, by the murderer, and (if) you're the murderer who killed my father, I am sure I won't let you go, and I don't care who you are.”

Together with other victims of the government's silence, Zhang Hai set up a group of legal advisers, who filed complaints on behalf of 20 families. However, all of them came under surveillance and some received phone calls from the police "advising" them against their action. As a result, Zhang Hai alone will continue his legal battle.

Zhang Hai's father, a Wuhan native, was a veteran (picture 2) of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) nuclear weapons programme. Last January, he broke a bone. The unit to which he belonged advised him to go to Wuhan, where his expenses would be reimbursed. However, nobody told him that Wuhan was in the midst of the epidemic.

Zhang Hai took his father to a Wuhan hospital where he died of from pneumonia caused by the coronavirus. Later, Zhang Hai found out that the hospital had an isolation ward for pneumonia patients, but he was not informed of the risks to his father and that the hospital did not protect him from the coronavirus.

For Zhang, had the Chinese government informed the public in time about the outbreak, he would not have returned to Wuhan with his father. For this reason, he decided to sue the city, the Hubei provincial government and the PLA hospital in Wuhan.

In addition to compensation, Zhang Hai wants the city government to publicly apologise for withholding information about the seriousness of the epidemic.

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