Gang members deny carrying out murders and selling bodies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 November, 2008, 12:00am

Seven members of a gang accused of murdering people and selling their corpses pleaded not guilty yesterday in a court in Jieyang, Guangdong, local media reported yesterday.

The seven were charged with murdering at least three people in July, hiding their bodies at a pig farm and then selling them to wealthy families, who used the corpses to replace their deceased relatives' bodies for cremation.

Funeral regulations on the mainland require remains to be cremated. But in many areas, burial is still a widespread tradition, and many Chinese believe it brings good fortune to the living. Some families secretly buy a corpse to give to the authorities for cremation and keep the remains of their relative for a secret burial.

Earlier, rumours were flying wild in Puning, a town under Jieyang's jurisdiction, that a criminal gang had killed 'hundreds of people' - particularly the elderly or mentally disabled, and had sold the bodies.

Puning police announced in August that they had arrested seven suspects.

The Jieyang Intermediate People's Court heard on Tuesday that Guan Dadu and Liu Haiqun were the masterminds of the gang. They had planned to kill people to profit from selling corpses, according to the Southern Metropolis News.

In July, Liu had reportedly instructed gang members to strangle three people on a highway between Puning and central Jieyang.

They then hid the corpses at a pig farm owned by Liu, the report added. The bodies had been kept at the farm for days before being sold, the court heard.

The trial was adjourned yesterday and will continue on an unspecified date.

In addition, the survivors of one of the victims has also sued the gang members seeking 166,000 yuan (HK$188,000). No trial date for the suit has been set by the Jieyan Intermediate People's Court.