China cult pair executed for McDonald's killing: Xinhua 02 февраля 2015, 15:23
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A father and daughter who belonged to a fringe Chinese religious group were executed Monday for beating a woman to death at a McDonald's restaurant, reportedly after she rebuffed their attempts to recruit her, AFP reports.
The pair were among a group of five members of the banned Quannengshen cult convicted of attacking the woman, surnamed Wu, after she refused to give them her phone number.
Zhang Fan and Zhang Lidong "were put to death by the Intermediate People's Court of Yantai city", the official news agency Xinhua said.
China uses both lethal injection and shooting for executions, but the method was not specified.
Zhang Fan was previously said by state media to be Zhang Lidong's daughter.
Quannengshen, whose name can be translated as Church of Almighty God, believe that Jesus has been reincarnated as a Chinese woman. They refer to the ruling Communist Party as the "great red dragon".
On its website -- where one section is headed "The Maturer the People Become, the Sooner the Great Red Dragon Will Collapse" -- the group describes the authorities as "the persecutor of God and the enemy of God".
The group was outlawed by the government in the mid-1990s and its founders moved to the United States in 2000, Xinhua said.
Shortly after the May incident, an online video emerged showing a man resembling Zhang Lidong striking out angrily with a pole, shouting "Damn you, devil! Go to hell!" as a woman yelled "Kill her! Beat her to death!"
The three minutes of footage, apparently shot on a mobile phone at the McDonald's in the eastern Shandong province, only included a fraction of a second showing the person thought to be the victim.
The three others convicted over the attack -- including another daughter of Zhang Lidong's -- were given prison terms ranging from seven years to life, with their offences including "undermining law enforcement using heresy".
State media gave the executions prominent coverage on Monday, with broadcaster CCTV showing footage of the convicts in court, as well as replaying the attack film.
'1,000 cult members held'
In the wake of the killing, state media said 1,000 Quannengshen members had been arrested including "high-level organisers and backbone members".
At the time, Xinhua accused members of the group as being "responsible for numerous suicides and murders, in which many victims were the perpetrators' family members".
Similar numbers were held at the end of 2012, when the organisation was under the spotlight for predicting an apocalypse and the state-run Global Times said it had called on members to overthrow the Communist Party.
In the months after Wu's murder a number of entries on the group's website attempted to distance it from "these several ruffians".
The posts claimed that the murder was used by the party as a pretext to crack down on Quannengshen.
"It's not difficult to see that the 'May 28 incident' is completely a false case created by the (party) to frame and condemn the Church of Almighty God," one of the postings said.
"Prisoners admit a confession by torture," said another. "Whatever the (party) asks them to say, they have to say it."
China has previously cracked down harshly on groups it labels "cults", most notably the Falungong spiritual movement, which was banned in the late 1990s.
It has since detained tens of thousands of its members, according to rights groups, with some saying they have been tortured for refusing to give up their beliefs.
Falungong insists it is targeted because the Communist Party views it as a threat.