Death sentence for cult members in E. China upheld

Shandong Higher People's Court upheld the death sentences for two Church of the Almighty God cult members, who beat a woman to death in a McDonald's last May.

The local higher court heard the appeal of five cult members on Nov. 21. It rejected all appeals and supported the original judgements.

The death penalty verdict will be transferred to the People's Supreme Court for final review.

In October, Zhang Fan and Zhang Lidong were sentenced to death by the Yantai Intermediate People's Court in Shandong Province, with another accomplice, Lyu Yingchun, given a life sentence. The final two cult members, Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian, were sentenced to prison terms of ten and seven years respectively.

All four Zhangs are relatives.

In addition to the murder charges, Zhang Fan, Zhang Lidong and Lyu Yingchun were also charged with breaching law enforcement by cult activities. The three people were deprived of political rights for life by the court.

A woman surnamed Wu was beaten to death on May 28 at a McDonald's outlet in Zhaoyuan, after she refused to give her cell phone number to the sentenced cult members, who were allegedly trying to recruit new members for the cult, known in Chinese as Quannengshen.

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