Legislator faces arrest over illegal construction

Prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for a legislator blamed when the illegal construction of a basement under his Beijing courtyard home in Xicheng district caused a road to collapse.

Li Baojun, who was a member of the Xuzhou People's Congress in Jiangsu province, resigned early this month.

The collapse occurred on Jan 24 when five workers were attempting to dig a basement beneath the building on Deshengmennei Street.

According to the Beijing Information Office, the cave-in resulted in a crater 15 meters long, 5 meters wide and 10 meters deep.

Traffic was disrupted and subsidence caused to at least four rooms in properties owned by people north of the site.

Since the collapse, the incident has been hotly debated on the Internet, with netizens criticising Li's breach of the law, particularly as he was a legislator.

Li, president of Haiying Group - a corporation in Jiangsu focusing on auto parts production, bought the 190-square-meter home with five rooms in April 2010. As two of the rooms are under a historical and cultural protection programme, any restoration or reconstruction work has to be approved by district authorities.

The Beijing Planning Commission said Li had applied to renovate the building but the permit granted only allowed him to refurbish the building, not dig a basement.

A construction company was reported to have handled all matters relating to the basement, including obtaining permission from government departments.

Previous media reports said local authorities had warned Li and ordered him to stop work after residents complained in July.