China

China cult murder trial: Two members sentenced to death

  • 11 October 2014
  • From the section China
Media captionThe BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan reports on the trial of the members of the Church of the Almighty God

A Chinese court has sentenced five cult members for beating a woman to death at a McDonald's restaurant in Shandong province last May.

Two members were given death sentences, one was given a life sentence, and two were given 10 and seven-year jail terms.

The victim was allegedly killed after she refused to give her phone number to the members, who tried to recruit her.

The Church of the Almighty God cult is banned in China.

However, it claims to have millions of members.

Image copyright Yantai Intermediate People's Court
Image caption The trial of the five cult members began in August

Zhang Fan and her father Zhang Lidong were given death sentences by the Yantai Intermediate People's Court in Shandong on Saturday, state media reported.

Lu Yingchun was sentenced to life imprisonment, while two other members, Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian, were given 10 and seven-year jail terms.

China's supreme court reviews all death sentences issued by lower courts and has the right to overturn them.

The killing of 37-year-old Wu Shuoyan in May sparked national outrage.

The cult members had entered a small McDonald's branch in Zhaoyuan, soliciting phone numbers and hoping to recruit members to their cult.

Image caption The murder at this McDonald's outlet in Shandong sparked national outrage

Ms Wu was waiting in the restaurant with her seven-year-old son when she refused to give her phone number. The cult members then beat her to death, while screaming at other diners to keep away or face the same fate.

Interviewed in prison later, Zhang Lidong showed no remorse.

He said: "I beat her with all my might and stamped on her too. She was a demon. We had to destroy her."

The public face of the Church of the Almighty God is a website full of uplifting hymns and homilies. But its core belief is that God has returned to earth as a Chinese woman to wreak the apocalypse.

The only person who claims direct contact with this god is a former physics teacher, Zhao Weishan, who founded the cult 25 years ago and has since fled to the United States, correspondents say.

Since the killing, Chinese authorities say they have detained hundreds of members of the cult.

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