Two years after her husband, Chen Miaosheng , died in Beijing Huilongguan Hospital, Ran Guihua still asks her sisters when they will take her to visit Chen and why Chen has never come to visit her. 'We don't know how to tell her,' said Ran Guizhen , Ran's younger sister. Ran Guizhen said her sister's mental state and overall health had deteriorated since Chen was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in October 1995, particularly after she was almost run over by a train after getting lost on her way to the hospital to see her husband - a trip she had made without the family's knowledge. The younger sister said that Chen - a former electrical engineer at the Beijing Research Institute of Chemical Industry, a subsidiary of Sinopec - disappeared on October 11, 1995, but it was not until a year later that the family tracked him down to the hospital. Unable to force Chen, 52 at the time, into early retirement on the grounds that he did not get on well with colleagues and had bad personal hygiene, the institute told him to go for a health check-up with several colleagues in an effort to dupe him into entering the hospital, Ran Guizhen said. Although the family demanded Chen's discharge several times, the hospital refused. When he died in an accident on September 15, 2008, the family blamed the death on his years of treatment. 'You can't imagine how skinny he'd become when we saw his body,' Ran said. The sister conceded that Chen, a Guangdong native, was an eccentric person who was not good with interpersonal skills, was stingy and cared little about personal hygiene. Yet, at the same time, he was very straightforward, good with family finances and took good care of his wife. Chen carried all valuable items such as bank books and family ID cards everywhere with him while his wife was in hospital for a mental disorder several months before his own admission. When Chen was put into the hospital, the institution took possession of his belongings - family savings of over 40,000 yuan (HK$46,688) and house keys - which forced his wife to stay with her sister. The family also found that Chen's employer had transferred all his salary payments over the years - totalling nearly 470,000 yuan - to the hospital without his family's consent, supposedly to cover the cost of his stay. The family is waiting for a verdict from the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court on an appeal after the Chaoyang District People's Court ruled against the family's claim that the lock-up was illegal and rejected their lawsuit for 1.4 million yuan in compensation. The case took a twist when the hospital's lawyer showed the district court a letter of consensus from Chen's older brother, Chen Yaosheng , who is said to have consented to medical treatment upon hearing that his brother suffered from schizophrenia, which left him unable to think and emotionally unresponsive. However, that letter was dated July 27, 1995 - more than two months before Chen was sent to the hospital. The court was also given a notarised document recognising Chen's younger brother from Guangdong as his legal guardian, but that document was dated July 15, 2008, two months before Chen's death, according to Li Renbing , a lawyer representing Chen's wife. As the Ran family accused Chen's brothers of being cold-hearted and trying to shirk their responsibility, the family lawyer said that all the documents were legally flawed. 'How could the older brother say for sure what Chen's mental state was when Chen hadn't had an independent examination, and how could a notary office, instead of the court, possibly authorise Chen's younger brother as his guardian?' Li said. 'How could Chen's younger brother possibly act as his guardian while he was thousands of kilometres away in Guangdong?' The lawyer said medical records they had obtained showed that Chen's mental disorder had disappeared in December 1998, and by 2006 he had become completely rational in pursuing his discharge. The hospital repeatedly rejected his request because Chen's employer was the registered person of contact and, by regulation, was the only one who could authorise his release. 'Chen's plight has again exposed how flawed the mental health laws are,' Li said.