Chen Guangcheng has good reason to fear for the safety of his family, as his nephew has already been charged with a crime that it's not clear ever happened, and could face the death penalty. The Guardian's Jonathan Watts reported on Friday that Chen Kegui, nephew of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, which carries a penalty of 10 years to death.
So far, it's unclear whether anybody actually died when Chen Kegui slashed with a knife at intruders who broke into his house after Chen Guangcheng's flight to the U.S. embassy in Beijing. The Guardian's original report of the incident doesn't mention any fatality, nor does an interview Chen Kegui gave, hours after the incident, to Seeing Red in China blogger Yaxue Cao. Per The Guardian's Watts on Friday, Chen Kegui's lawyers "say he acted in self-defense and only wounded the intruders, but his legal team have come under intense pressure from the local authorities to drop what looks set to become one of China's most politicized criminal cases in recent years."
Chen Guangcheng's nephew isn't the only one living in fear. According to The Washington Post's Keith B. Richburg, his entire village of Dongshigu is basically on lockdown, with masked thugs using sticks to beat outsiders who try to come in. "Residents said this reign of terror extends to at least three other close-knit villages in the city of Linyi besides Chen’s, and has intensified since Chen fled to Beijing," writes Richburg. That "crazy retaliation" Chen Guangchen talked about on Thursday appears to be in full effect in his hometown.