Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The trial of five members of the sect of the "Almighty God (quannengshen)" opened today in the city of Yantai (Shandong). They stand accused of having beaten a woman to death at a restaurant last May, who had refused to give them her phone number. The members of the sect had entered the restaurant to make new followers.
The court also accused the five of being part of a cult illegal. The accused include one minor who will be tried separately.
The five face charges of "intentional homicide" for murdering the young woman. The charge for being members of an "evil cult and illegal" remains unknown.
In China there is a law on religions and their activities, but the State arrogates to itself the right to determine the cults permitted and prohibited, grouping together - as in this case - criminal and religious elements.
The group of "Almighty God" was born in Henan decades ago. It believes that Jesus is risen and lives in a woman, Yang Xiangbin, the founder's wife, Zhao Weishan, who in 2000 fled to the USA.
Police have stepped up pressure on the group with a slew of arrests in 2012, when the sect launched a campaign for a "decisive battle" against "the red dragon" of the Communist Party of China, preaching the imminent end of the world.
Since last May, the Chinese police have arrested at least 1,000 members of the sect. Many of them have made it known that they were tortured to force them to give up their beliefs.