Even as authorities begin to loosen residency restrictions in some cities, in other areas people unlucky enough to be caught without identification papers risk being detained for vagrancy and are sometimes subjected to physical abuse until family members can come up with 'release fees'. But one family is fighting back following the beating to death of their son in a Guangzhou detention centre, and are questioning the rationale behind why he was ever picked up in the first place. Last week, parents Zhang Dehong and Cao Yangshen began proceedings at the Guangzhou City Intermediate Court for 480,000 yuan (HK$451,000) in compensation for their son's death after a lower court ruled against them. When Guangzhou police picked up 25-year-old Zhang Sen on October 4, 1999, for vagrancy - no identity card, no residence permit and no work permit - he had already been working and living in the provincial capital for some time, the China Youth Daily reported yesterday. Zhang's offence was his failure to present his temporary residence card. After being detained, Zhang Sen called his uncle, Zhang Deyu, from the Baiyun District Public Security Bureau on October 5 asking for 200 yuan to secure his release. But before the uncle could arrive with the money, Zhang Sen was transferred to the Shahe district 'collection centre'. On October 7, Zhang Deyu reportedly received an urgent call from his nephew saying the price of his freedom had risen to 800 yuan. But when he arrived with the money he was told his nephew was not there. Twelve days later, Zhang Deyu was called by staff from Kangning Hospital, a facility for psychiatric patients and vagrants, and told that 600 yuan was needed to treat his 'seriously injured' nephew. The next day they told him he was dead. 'Treatment fees' of 200 yuan would also be needed, they said, before they could allow the family to see the body, which had been sent to the crematorium. After Zhang Deyu and three other family members reportedly found huge black and blue welts covering the nephew's face and body, they began legal proceedings to seek compensation for wrongful incarceration that resulted in death. During the first trial in January, although the Tianhe District Court concluded Zhang Sen had been beaten to death, they absolved the detention centre of responsibility on the basis that the man had failed to present adequate identification.