Taiwanese cult leader sentenced to 13 years over death of student

Taiwanese cult leader sentenced to 13 years over death of student

TAIPEI - The Changhua District Court sentenced the leader of the religious group Ri Yue Ming Gong's Chen Chiau-ming to 13 years in prison for the death of 17-year-old Changhua student Chan Chun-yu, who was abused and starved to death on the cult's compound.

Chen is charged with injury leading to death, conspiracy and obstruction of freedom.

Chen said she is apologetic for Chan's death, but does not understand why she was given such a harsh punishment. Chen explained to the judges that she loved everyone on the compound and that if she knew that Chan was being abused, she would have saved him. She also said that her heart aches every time Chan crosses her mind.

Chan's mother, Huang Chiue-fen, also a Ri Yue Ming Gong member, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison. Hsu Ai-jen, the one responsible for driving Chan to the hospital on the night of his death, received a sentence of four years.

Chan's sister criticised Hsu's sentence and said that Hsu is Chen's accomplice and deserved a heavier punishment. Chan's sister said that she will be talking with her lawyer before seeking an appeal to lengthen Hsu's sentence.

According to the written verdict, Chan was asked to return to school to make up a class on Saturday, May 18, 2013. That night, at the Ri Yue Ming Gong compound, Chen became suspicious of Chan's early departure for school from his home. Chen instructed cult members to discipline Chan by repeatedly asking him where he had gone in the morning.

Forced to Pen Confession, Beaten with Stick and Hose

Unclear details in Chan's recollection led to cult members whipping him with a thin bamboo stick and a garden hose. Chan was then kept captive in a small room with his hands and feet bound. Members coerced Chan into writing a confession that said he joined a gang and was using drugs. Even with the penned confession, Chan remained in captivity on the Ri Yue Ming Gong compound.

On June 5, 2013, an emaciated Chan showed signs of life-threatening symptoms and was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Other cult members that were sentenced include Liu Hsiang-yi who received a sentence of three years and 10 months. The remaining members charged were sentenced to anywhere between six months to two years.

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