Monday, February 2, 2015
Top Story CNN - China executes 2 members of banned doomsday group
Zhang Fan and Zhang Lidong were executed Monday after their death sentences were approved by the Supreme People's Court, the Xinhua news agency.
The report stated that, before their deaths, Zhang and Zhang were allowed to meet with their families for a final time
They were among five members of the Church of Almighty God, or "Quannengshen," tried on murder charges in August 2014 over the killing of a woman in Zhaoyuan, Shandong Province.
A court statement said the victim, a 37-year-old woman named Wu Shuoyan, was attacked after refusing to give her phone number to the group, who were allegedly attempting to recruit new members.
Three other cult members, Lyu Yingchun, Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian, were sentenced to life, 10 and seven years in prison respectively for their roles in the attack. The four Zhangs were related, according to Xinhua.
Links to violence, kidnappings
The Church of Almighty God has been linked to kidnappings, violence and extortion, and has been banned by China's Ministry of Public Security since 1995.
Also known as Eastern Lightning ("Dongfang Shandian"), the group preaches that the righteous are engaged in an apocalyptic struggle against China's Communist Party -- which it refers to as the "great red dragon."
Founded in the 1990s in Henan Province, the group believes that Jesus has been reincarnated as Yang Xiangbin, the wife of the group's founder, Zhao Weishan. The couple live in the United States after fleeing to the country in 2000, according to Xinhua.
In August, Chinese state media reported that police had arrested nearly 1,000 suspected members of the group, including nearly 100 "backbone members."
The report said those arrested were responsible for "numerous" suicides and murders, including those of their own family.
In 2012, hundreds of members were rounded up after the group publicly proclaimed the end of the world was imminent.
In a statement provided to CNN in June, Hong Kong-based members of the group responsible for its English-language website said it was "very natural" for the Chinese Communist Party to blame the group for the McDonald's death because the party slandered and then suppressed those that disagreed with it.
"They always find some excuse in advance and fabricate things and slander them," said the statement.
CNN's Tim Hume and Chieu Luu contributed to this report