Death sentence for mass child murderer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 April, 2010, 12:00am

A surgeon who stabbed eight children to death outside a Fujian primary school last month was sentenced to death yesterday, but said he would appeal against the verdict.

Zheng Minsheng appeared before Nanping Intermediate People's Court charged with intentional homicide. Dressed in blue and yellow checked pyjamas and an orange vest, he showed no signs of remorse, the Yangcheng Evening Post reported.

Zheng, 42, attacked 13 children with a 30 centimetre-long knife outside the gate of Nanping Experimental Elementary School on March 23 as they waited for the school to open. Eight died and five suffered severe injuries.

The hearing, which began at 8am and lasted for about four hours, was packed with more than 120 people, including family members of victims, journalists and court officials. Several hundred people who could not get inside waited in the rain for the verdict. The Yangcheng Evening Post reported that most victims' parents did not attend the trial because they were still overwhelmed by grief.

During the hearing, police said Zheng had no history of mental illness. They said he carried out the rampage because he felt frustrated after breaking up with his girlfriend and found life meaningless, Xinhua reported. More than 15 surveillance camera clips showing the 55-second attack were played in the court and witnesses described what they had seen. Other evidence, such as the knife and the bloodstained clothes and schoolbags of the victims, was also presented to the court.

The Yangcheng Evening Post said Zheng appeared to be emotional and repeated the line 'everything happened for a reason' to every question from prosecutors.

Frustrated prosecutors then suggested the court move on to evidence presentation, where Zheng was allowed to speak his mind.

He told the court the main reason he killed the children was because his ex-girlfriend had turned him down but kept telling people she would marry no one else but him, making it impossible for him to get a new girlfriend. He also complained that she and her wealthy family had unjustly accused him of committing murders and other wrongdoings.

Zheng shouted 'I want to appeal against the verdict' as soon as the court announced the death penalty, insisting his girlfriend and her family should share part of the responsibility, Xinhua reported.

Zheng was also ordered to pay compensation, ranging from 10,000 yuan (HK$11,300) to 410,000 yuan, to the 13 victims' families.

Outside the court, an elderly man who said he was one of Zheng's neighbours said Zheng used to like children. 'It never occurred to me that he would do something like this,' he said.

The uncle of one victim said the family would sue the school because it should be held accountable for the murder for implementing a policy that kept the school gate shut until 7.30am. The murder took place 10 minutes before the gate was scheduled to open. The school has yet to make an official apology for the incident.

Citing doctors from Nanping's No1 Hospital, Xinhua said four out of five injured schoolchildren had been transferred to rehabilitative care, while one remained in intensive care.

Xinhua reported that the Nanping city government had released compassionate payments totalling 260,000 yuan to the families of the eight children who died in the incident. Their bodies were cremated on March 27.

Angry internet users called for Zheng to be executed on June 1 - International Children's Day.

Blow by blow

Clips were shown of the attack,which lasted this number of seconds: 55