CRIME

Cult members 'unrepentant' as they face trial for Shandong McDonald's murder

Church of Almighty God followers angry that woman refused to give them telephone number

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 12:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 August, 2014, 8:35am

Five members of a banned religious group went on trial yesterday for allegedly beating a woman to death at a McDonald's restaurant.

The woman was attacked in May at the eatery in Zhaoyuan in Shandong province after she refused to give the accused her telephone number, Xinhua reported.

They were seeking to recruit her into their cult, the Church of Almighty God, it said.

The group was outlawed by the mainland government in the mid-1990s.

It believes that Jesus has been reincarnated as a Chinese woman and refers to the Communist Party as the "great red dragon".

Watch: A witness video of the attack at McDonald's (WARNING: Graphic content)

Images of the four women and one man, dressed in bright orange prison vests and surrounded by 17 police officers, were posted online by the Yantai Intermediate People's Court.

"The indictment charged defendants Zhang Fan, Zhang Lidong, Lu Yingchun, Zhang Hang, Zhang Qiao jointly with intentional homicide," the court said on its social media account.

The five were also charged with illegal cult activities, the court said.

"The facts are clear and there is plenty of evidence," Gao Cheng, the lawyer for the murdered woman's family, was quoted as saying by the People's Daily website.

The accused had shown no signs of remorse and should be severely punished, Gao said.

The victim's family applied during the hearing for the withdrawal of a civil lawsuit against the alleged attackers, according to the court's microblog.

A family relative was earlier quoted by a news website as saying they feared reprisals from the group if they continued with their legal action for damages.

Relatives of the dead woman told the South China Morning Post they hoped for severe punishments for the attack.

"Death is an appropriate penalty in this case if you think of how much pain they brought us," one relative said.

The relative said the family may also consider restarting the civil action against the group members after the criminal case was finished.

The trial lasted a single day. The court said a verdict would be announced at a later date.

Six suspects were reportedly arrested in May, including a juvenile, whose case will be dealt with separately.

The authorities announced earlier this week that they had arrested nearly 1,000 members of the religious group since the killing in May.

Additional reporting by Echo Hui

 

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