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Mass poisoners on run since 1997 sentenced to death

By ZHU LIXIN in Hefei | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-01-09 09:34
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Two men responsible for poisoning food at a martial arts school in Anhui province 27 years ago — which led to the deaths of seven students — were sentenced to death on Monday, according to a local court.

Economic compensation will also be provided to the families of the victims, according to a statement by Ma'anshan Intermediate People's Court issued on Monday afternoon in Anhui province.

The two men, Fu Zejie and Zhu Zulin, had been on the run for almost three decades until they were arrested in May last year.

In 1994, Zhu ran a training institute for martial arts with another person in the county surnamed Peng.

Due to some business conflicts, Peng quit the institute and took most of the students and some of the workers with him to establish the Nanbei Shaolin Martial Arts School in October 1995, according to the court statement.

Fu joined the new school as a coach in August 1996, but later became dissatisfied with Peng over some trivial matters. Fu and Zhu then planned to ruin Peng's school and decided on the poisoning.

Zhu promised to pay Fu 50,000 yuan ($6,980) for the poisoning and gave him a 500-yuan down payment, local police said at a news conference in October.

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

At about 7 am the following morning, after consuming the pickled vegetables, more than 100 teachers and students started to show symptoms such as vomiting and convulsions, and seven students later died, according to the court.

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

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

Fu and Zhu never met each other again until they were arrested in May in Fujian and Guizhou provinces, respectively.

The victims' families have sought compensation totaling 7.65 million yuan, according to a report by Jimu News, a Hubei-based news outlet.

The court's Monday statement did not mention the amount of compensation awarded.

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