Former surgeon charged with children's murders

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 March, 2010, 12:00am

Before Tuesday, former surgeon Zheng Minsheng was just another disgruntled mainland man after being dumped by his girlfriend and sacked from his job in Nanping , Fujian .

Now he is the talk of the nation after stabbing 13 primary school pupils in a minute-long rampage that left eight children dead and five in intensive care, one of whom might not emerge from a vegetative state.

The Yancheng Evening News yesterday quoted a doctor as saying that the heart of one of the survivors had stopped beating twice and that after two operations there were doubts about whether the child would regain consciousness. The children were attacked outside the gate of Nanping Experimental Primary School at about 7.20am on Tuesday as they waited for the school to open. The attack shocked the nation and sparked questions about the lack of security near schools.

Local media said at first that Zheng, 42, was mentally ill but later portrayed him as a sane person with personal grudges who was well aware of what he had done. Officials refused to comment on Zheng's mental state.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Nanping Public Security officials told mainland media that Zheng had been charged with murder. Police said Zheng, who was pessimistic by nature, had sought revenge on society after failing to find romance.

A person who saw Zheng trapped by a crowd of people after the attack quoted him as saying 'They are not letting me live so I won't let them live either,' the Guangzhou-based Information Times reported. It quoted Zheng's neighbours as describing him as a tall, handsome man who had not had much luck with women because he had a low-income job. They speculated that Zheng, pushed into a corner in life, had sought revenge on the children of the rich.

Liao Hanren, Nanping's deputy education chief, said the elite school had more than 2,000 pupils.

Zheng had a medical career for more than 20 years and worked as a qualified surgeon in a community clinic of in the city's Yanping district. However, he was unable to find work after leaving that post in June.

Former colleague Huang Liben told the Guangzhou Daily that Zheng was a hardworking doctor with good surgical skills and was popular with patients.

The Southern Metropolis News quoted the parents of seven of those killed as saying the tragedy could have been avoided if the school had opened its gate earlier. The father of Chen Jiahui , a Primary Three girl who was stabbed to death, said: 'The school puts children's lives at risk by keeping them outside the gate until 7.30 every morning.'

The school has reopened but students are still scared and teachers remain grief-stricken. Anxious parents were seen dropping frightened children off at the school wearing white mourning flowers.

The Information Times reported that Huang Baozhu, the mother of Primary One pupil Ouyang Yuhao, had dropped him off on Tuesday and then seen him murdered. She cried outside the school gate on Wednesday, fainting several times.