A property developer yesterday denied it had agreed to preserve fung shui trees planted by ancestors of Ma On Shan villagers.
Residents of Sai O claim Sun Hung Kai - which is building a missionary school on farmland north of their village - had agreed to leave the 120 trees untouched.
They said diabetic resident Lee Shu-sang, 58, died on Monday, two days after the trees were cleared.
But a Sun Hung Kai spokesman said the developer had not signed an agreement regarding the trees.
'There was no promise at the meeting on November 2, 1995, or any other meeting that no trees would be cut.
'The architect of the landowner said they would preserve the natural, tree-lined area of the site and the surrounding area.' Tai Po District Board member Ho Tai-wai said work on the site in Shap Sze Heung had halted for three days from Tuesday after villagers demanded that the disturbed souls of the village gods and evils be given time to rest.
But Sun Hung Kai did not confirm the stoppage, saying only that protest banners had been removed and negotiations with the villagers would continue.