Police in Nanyang, Henan province, have detained the leaders of a house demolition team alleged to have used AIDS patients and HIV carriers to threaten locals to move away, according to the city's publicity department.
Local police did not reveal details, saying the team is still being investigated and it is not yet known whether it included genuine AIDS patients or just used the possibility of infection with the disease as a threat.
Nanyang's Wolong district government and the city's Yi'an Property Development Co denied they set up such a team to clear the way for real estate projects.
Ma Bing, Party chief of Wolong district, said the district government has established a special task force to probe the case.
"The findings will be made public, as the case has raised great concern among local residents," Ma told local media.
A lawyer said organising such a demolition team violated the rights and interests of not only property owners but also AIDS patients and HIV carriers.
Residents in the district's Sanchang housing estate said the team arrived in a housing estate at the beginning of December, according to Beijing News.
"They showed their medical record books that indicated they were AIDS patients to threaten locals to move away," a local housewife surnamed Liu was quoted as saying by Beijing News.
"They told us they were actually hired by a local real estate developer for 300,000 yuan (S$63,000) to force locals to move away for construction of a new real estate project, and they wanted to earn a large sum of money to treat the disease and make a living," Liu said.
"They began harassing residents by visiting every household in the estate and even setting off firecrackers at midnight," Liu said.
So far, more than a dozen families have moved away for fear of being infected with AIDS, Liu said.
Most of the residents have yet to reach agreements on compensation to move away, Liu added.
According to Beijing News, two AIDS patents in Henan province admitted that they had previously been hired by local companies to accompany house demolition teams or help employees demand back pay.