BEIJING, : An alleged member of the Falungong sect has been sentenced to death for fatally poisoning 16 people, including a social worker and 15 beggars and drifters.
Chen Fuzhao, a former medical worker at the Lupu township health bureau in eastern Zhejiang province, was sentenced by a Wenzhou city intermediate court on Tuesday afternoon, Xinhua news agency reported on its website.
He was convicted of committing the murders between May 25 and June 27 this year and was captured on July 1 by police in Cangnan county where the killings took place, it said.
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The 29-year-old was convicted of lacing drinks with rat poison and then handing them out on the streets of Longgang township.
The murdered social worker was a woman who helped feed the poor at a Buddhist temple in the town.
According to Xinhua, Chen confessed to the crimes and said he committed the murders in an effort to reach “perfection” in accordance with his Falungong beliefs.
The Falungong group, banned as an “evil cult” by China since 1999, once claimed millions of followers on the mainland, and was considered by central leaders as one of the most serious threats to its rule.
The group claims more than 1,600 members have been tortured or beaten to death in China since a crackdown ordered four years ago largely drove the organization underground.
Chen’s case is the latest in a spate of mass killings that have surfaced in China in recent months, including a man who murdered 67 people as he cycled between village homes robbing his victims in the middle of the night.
Earlier this month, a man was sentenced to death and executed for the murders of 18 school boys.