Five on trial for fatal beating
Five people who were arrested on suspicion of fatally beating a woman in a McDonald’s restaurant in Shandong province were prosecuted by the Yantai People’s Procuratorate on Monday, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The five defendants are Zhang Lidong, 54; his daughters Zhang Fan, 29, Zhang Hang, 18, and two other women, Lyu Yingchun, 39, and Zhang Qiaolian, 23.
The procuratorate accused Zhang Fan, Zhang Lidong and Lyu Yingchun of intentional homicide and undermining the implementation of law, and Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian of intentional homicide.
“The circumstances are especially serious, their means are especially cruel, and the aftermath is especially serious,” the indictment said.
The woman, surnamed Wu, was beaten to death on May 28 at a McDonald’s restaurant in Zhaoyuan, Shandong province, after she refused to give her telephone number to the suspects, who were allegedly trying to recruit new members for their cult Quannengshen, which means “Almighty God”.
After they were arrested, they showed no regret for the incident, authorities said. They allegedly believed the woman was a “devil” or an “evil spirit”, and both the father and his elder daughter said they are neither afraid of the law nor repentant for what they did, the authorities said.
The case triggered a crackdown on and investigation of the cult in Shandong in early June. The Ministry of Public Security said Chinese police will “severely attack” religious cults and punish those who participate in such movements.
Yi Shenghua, a lawyer at Beijing Yingke Law Firm, said that if the five are convicted, the court is likely to sentence at least one of them to death and carry out the execution or executions immediately, if there is no other factor pointing to leniency in sentencing.
“The case is different from other intentional homicide cases like a wife killing a husband for his cheating. The victim was beaten to death without doing anything wrong,” said Yi. “Such a random murder case with such influence will lead to a very heavy sentence.”
Yi said other factors also could influence the sentences.
“There are voices questioning the mental status of those suspects, so I think they will probably have psychiatric tests.”