China airport bomber formally arrested: Lawyer

BEIJING - A disabled man who bombed Beijing airport to protest at police brutality has been formally arrested, his lawyer said Tuesday, in a case that highlighted popular resentment toward low-level authorities.

Ji Zhongxing, a 33-year-old wheelchair-bound former driver who said a 2005 beating left him paralysed, set off a small explosion on July 20, destroying his hand and injuring an officer.

He was arrested on Monday on suspicion of bombing, his lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan told AFP, adding that the act carried a potential sentence of three to 10 years' jail because it caused little damage.

"His explosion did not have serious consequences, it just exploded on his own hand," Liu said.

Media reports said Ji warned passers-by at the airport to move away before setting off his homemade device.

He has been in hospital in police custody since the incident.

China National Radio reported that Ji confessed to preparing and exploding the bomb. Liu said he could not confirm this as he was due to meet his client for the first time on Thursday.

Ji had for years sought redress for his condition, lodging formal complaints and suing unsuccessfully for compensation.

Dongguan authorities ultimately gave him 100,000 yuan (S$20,700) as financial aid, but said Ji was injured in a road accident and there was no evidence of a beating - although after the bombing they pledged to re-investigate.

Ji's story won sympathy among ordinary Chinese, who complained online about abuse by local authorities - which has been highlighted in a spate of recent incidents.

In the highest-profile event, a watermelon vendor in the central province of Hunan died earlier this month in a confrontation with low-level enforcers of city regulations known as chengguan, sparking outrage.