China tries five accused cult members for murder

World Today

Five cult members Zhang Fan, Zhang Lidong, Lyu Yingchun, Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian stand trial on murder charges in Yantai Intermediate People’s Court in Yantai City, east China’s Shandong Province on Aug. 21, 2014. (Xinhua)

Five people stood trial Thursday in the beating death of a woman at a McDonald’s restaurant in eastern China who reportedly refused to join the illegal Quannengshen cult. CCTV America’s Wang Yizhi reports.

China tries five accused cult members for murder

Five people stood trial Thursday in the beating death of a woman at a McDonald’s restaurant in eastern China who reportedly refused to join the illegal Quannengshen cult.

The high-profile crime has led to the arrest of nearly 1,000 cult suspects. The five defendants, including a man and his two daughters, were accused of beating the woman with chairs and a metal pole after she refused to give them her phone number. The violence was captured on cellphone video.

All five were accused of murder and three also faced cult-related charges in the one-day trial at Yantai Intermediate People’s Court. The court posted photos of what it said were the proceedings on its microblog. The judge will issue a verdict at an unspecified later date.

The cult, also known as the “Church of Almighty God,” “All-powerful Spirit,” and “Eastern Lightning,” believes that Jesus was resurrected as a Chinese woman and sees itself in a struggle against the “Red Dragon,” or the Chinese Communist Party. It is one of 14 cults that China has listed as illegal, according to Xinhua.

The crime took place on May 28 in Zhaoyuan city in Shandong province, a traditional hotbed for religious sects. The region gave birth to the violent anti-Christian Boxer movement that laid siege to Western interests in Beijing and elsewhere during the waning years of the Qing dynasty in 1900.

According to a CCTV News report, the five defendants had eaten at the McDonald’s on the night of the beating.  The only male member of the group, Zhang Lidong, asked the victim, Wu Shuoyan, for her telephone number. She refused. The four women then approached her and asked her. Again, she refused, and the group decided that she was the devil. They used chairs and other items to beat Wu while threatening to kill any bystanders who might intervene.

Zhang was interviewed by CCTV in May and identified himself as unemployed. When asked why he assaulted the victim, he replied, “Because she is a demon, she is evil.”

The four female defendants are Zhang Fan, Zhang Hang, Lyu Yingchun and Zhang Qiaolian. The first two are Zhang Lidong’s daughters.

Police said the five defendants organized cult activities and used the Internet to preach and spread information. The five were shown standing calmly in court. Relatives of the defendants and of the victim were present.

These five religious cult members are accused of murder. Three of them faced cult related charges at Yantai Intermediate People’s Court. CCTV America’s Jin Yingqiao reports.

Five religious cult members are accused of murder in Zhaoyuan Incidence

ive religious cult members are on trial on murder charges in Shandong Province in China. They're accused of beating a woman to death in at a McDonald's restaurant in May. Authorities say the killing was sparked by the victim's refusal to join the cult. CCTV America's Jin Yingqiao reports.

Report compiled with information from CCTV News and The Associated Press