China has formally arrested the popular head of a village who won a rare open election in 2012 following a standoff with the ruling Communist Party.

The move Thursday against Lin Zuluan comes one month after he was detained on charges of taking kickbacks on government contracts and places him on track to go to trial where a conviction is all but assured.

Lin's detention last month came shortly before he planned to lead protests against land grabs by local developers and touched off days of demonstrations in Wukan village, where many residents maintain his innocence.

The fishing village of 13,000 on the South China Sea coast became internationally known in 2011 when its residents openly revolted and won unusual permission from the Communist Party to hold an open election.