Former Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong, one of the main figures blamed for the bloody crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square, died Sunday at the age of 84, according to Chinese news reports.
The Hong Kong China News Agency and the South China Morning Post confirmed Chen's death, saying he had been suffering from colon cancer.
According to The Apple Daily, Chen was identified as "poet and photographer Chen Xi," before his cremation Monday, to cover the untimely death just two days before the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
In a book published last year, Chen denied he was one of the masterminds behind the crackdown, but former Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang and former Premier Li Peng, in later years, both blamed Chen for the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square.
Armed troops fired at thousands of student-led demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, to crush their weeks-long pro-democracy protest, killing thousands of people.
At the time, Chen was a member of the Politburo and the mayor of Beijing.
He was removed from office in 1995 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 1998 for dereliction of duty and corruption. In 2006, he was released from jail, reportedly due to his medical condition.
Following the news of his death, several families of Tiananmen Square massacre victims have come out and described Chen's death as retribution for the sins he committed 24 years ago, the South China Morning Post reported.