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Mass poisoners to be sentenced after 26 years evading capture

By Zhu Lixin in Hefei | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-03 09:12


Two men who put poison into food at a martial arts school in Anhui province 26 years ago — which led to the deaths of seven students — will soon be sentenced, according to a local court's statement on Wednesday night.

The two, Zhu Zulin and Fu Zejie, had been on the run until they were arrested in May.

During the trial on Wednesday, the procuratorate of the province's Ma'anshan city said Zhu and Fu had deliberately put rat poison into the food of students at Nanbei Shaolin Martial Arts School, which is now governed by the city, according to Ma'anshan Intermediate People's Court.

Around 1994, Zhu ran a training institute for martial arts, or wushu, together with another person in the county surnamed Peng.

Due to some business conflicts, Peng quit the institute and took most of institute's teachers and students to establish a new school, according to the procuratorate.

Fu joined the new school as a coach in August 1996, but later became dissatisfied with Peng over some trivial matters.

Zhu and Fu then met through a mutual friend, and expressed their discontent about Peng. They wanted to ruin Peng's school and at last decided on the poisoning, according to the procuratorate's accusation.

Zhu promised to pay Fu 50,000 yuan ($6,800) for the poisoning and gave a 500-yuan down payment, the local police said at a news conference on Sunday.

On the night of June 29, 1997, Fu snuck into the school's kitchen and put two packs of rat poison into the food.

At about 7 am the following morning, more than 130 teachers and students started to show symptoms like vomiting and convulsions, and seven students later died.

After the poisoning, Fu tried to contact Zhu twice via phone — the first call connected but was disconnected, and the second call never connected.

Local police identified the pair as suspects, but were unable to locate them, and added them to the national wanted list.

In the past decades, Fu and Zhu never met each other until they were arrested in May in Fujian and Guizhou provinces, respectively.

The procuratorate has sought criminal sentences of more than 10 years in prison, or even the death penalty, while Fu claimed that he had never thought about killing any person with the poisoning, according to media reports.

The court said in a statement that it would announce the verdict at a later date.

Liang Ziru in Hefei contributed to this story.

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