End of line for monk on the run

BEIJING - After more than 17 years living in seclusion as a monk, murder suspect Xu Xinlian has finally been brought to justice.

When the police interrupted his chanting and put handcuffs on his hands, Xu was very calm and seemed resigned to his fate.

"I've waited for this day for 17 years and now I need to escape from the torture of my soul," said Xu, once a senior monk of the famous Jingci and Xiangji temples at Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang province.

"I haven't slept well for a single night since the murder happened. I have been suffering from worry, panic, and have been repenting all these years."

He said he felt so relaxed, now that he is able to pay for the serious crimes to which he has admitted.

Xu, 39, was born in Jiujiang county of Jiangxi province, where his parents are farmers. He has a sister and two brothers.

He failed at his senior school studies, blaming the poverty of his family, and began to mix with bad elements in society.

Then one night in July 1994, his friend Wang Jun asked him to help exact revenge on a former classmate Xu Min, who had beaten him in a fight.

They got together with another five young men and went to Xu Min's dormitory.

Xu Xinlian is said to have kicked open the door and slashed at Xu Min's head with a knife.

Xu Min was later found dead with 56 wounds to his body.

Nearby, his wife also lay dead and his 2-year-old son seriously injured.

The police later arrested six of the suspects, but Xu Xinlian managed to escape.

"After the murders, my first reaction was to get away as soon as possible and hide in the temple," Xu Xinlian said.

"Because the temple is far removed from modern society, I spent most of my days there. It's difficult for the police or others to follow my track, and I didn't need to worry about food and clothes."

In November 1994, Xu officially became a monk in Sanzu Temple at Anqing in Anhui province, and to begin with, he was responsible for cleaning the temple, selling tickets and doing some chores.

As time went by, Xu said he regretted his actions more, and he began to see his service at the temple as a way of compensating for his actions.

In 2000, he went to the famous Jingci Temple in Hangzhou as a common monk.

The abbot of the temple considered him hardworking, diligent and modest, and after nine years, he was appointed as the director of Xiangji Temple.

In January 2011, he returned to Jingci Temple to become director.

But on Nov 26 last year, Jiujiang police in Jiangxi got a tip-off that Xu was hiding in a famous temple in Zhejiang.

Two days later, while he was chanting at Xiangji Temple, he was arrested.

The police said Xu insisted on eating vegetarian food and chanting during the day and night after he was held in Jiujiang county detention house.

Of the other six suspects in the murder case, who were all in the same detention house, three have been executed.

When the police asked Xu, "Do you think you can escape legal punishment in the end?" he answered, "I just want to be reborn in paradise."