Cult leader jailed in central China

Wuhan -- A cult leader was sentenced to four years in jail in central China's Hubei Province on Tuesday.

Cao Yinhua, 48, a regional leader of the illegal cult Quannengshen (almighty god), was found guilty of establishing grassroots cult organizations, recruiting believers and producing preaching articles in Hubei and Hunan provinces, according to the ruling of the district people's court of Wuchang, Wuhan City.

Cao was caught by police in October 2013. Twenty books, 53 pamphlets, 49 discs and six computers that included Quannengshen material were found in her knapsack and at places where they gathered, according to the court.

Cao joined the cult in February 2007. She received laojiao (reeducation through labor) punishment for 18 months in 2009. She became the cult's top leader in Hubei and Hunan in early 2013, according to the court.

Twenty-five cult members were given jail terms from three and a half years to eight years in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region last Thursday.

The cult came into the spotlight when six Quannengshen members beat a woman to death on May 28 at a McDonalds outlet in Zhaoyuan City in the eastern province of Shandong, after she refused to give her telephone number to the members, who were allegedly trying to recruit people.

Appearing in the 1990s in central China's Henan Province, the Quannengshen group claims that Jesus has been resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, wife of the sect's founder Zhao Weishan, also known as Xu Wenshan. The couple fled to the United States in September 2000.

The sect has been widely criticized for spreading rumors and coercing people to join. In late October and early November 1998, robberies and assaults connected with the cult were reported over 12 days in Henan's Tanghe County, with victims' limbs broken and ears cut off.