The trial of a man accused of killing a baby over a parking spot row has opened in Beijing, with prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

Han Lei has been accused of picking the 34-month-old toddler from her pram and hurling her "forcefully" to the ground after arguing with her mother because she would not move her car.

The court heard how Han attacked the baby and fled the scene. He had wanted to park by a bus stop in Beijing but the woman refused to move her car as she was tending to her baby.

A street vendor told the Beijing Times how Han got out of his car and hit the woman, before picking up the infant, holding her in the air and dropping her with force.

"The baby made no noises after being dropped, not even a cry of pain," the witness said. The baby was in a critical condition in hospital for several days but died from her injuries.

Death penalty

Han was captured the following day and was charged with murder after the baby died.

A man who was with Han at the time and helped him flee the scene was charged with harbouring a criminal.

Han claims he did not know it was a baby in the pram: "I thought all along that it was a shopping cart, not a pram. I did not know there was an infant inside," he said.

Han killed the child less than a year after being released from jail and prosecutors are pushing for the maximum sentence of death. They have recommended his companion, Li Ming, serve two years in prison.

The trial has gained nationwide attention in China, with the case ranking in the top 10 search terms on social networking website Sina Weibo, the BBC reports.