Shandong authorities have sentenced six crematorium staff for faking cremations for relatives of the dead who wanted to bury their loved ones.
Over the past seven years, the six offenders had received more than 230,000 yuan (HK$291,000) from relatives of more than 60 deceased people to help them fake cremations, according to Procuratorial Daily.
Yinan People’s Court sentenced them each to imprisonment for three to six years, the newspaper said.
China has been promoting cremation for decades. But the nationwide cremation rate still fluctuates at about 50 per cent due to lax regulations and strong opposition in rural areas where local villagers strongly favour burial to cremation.
The paper said two of the offenders, who were responsible for transporting bodies, used materials such as corn stalks covered with old cloths to make fake bodies to put into the incinerators. The other four incinerator operators would then forge cremation certificates.
Citing the procurator, the newspaper said the cremation industry had become a hotbed for illegal conduct because the governing body served as both regulator and operator.
Discrimination against crematorium workers was also a contributing factor the newspaper revealed. It quoted one of the offenders called Li Liang as saying during the investigation: “People in this industry like us are despised by others.”
This kind of discrimination had upset many people in the industry and prompted them to abuse their positions for financial gain as a form of compensation, the newspaper said citing police officers.
Another contributing factor to such crimes was superstition, it added, as many people were reluctant to go near crematoriums.