GUANGZHOU: The trial of a gang of seven people accused of murdering at least three people and selling their bodies back to wealthy relatives in Guangdong province, began on Tuesday, the local government said Wednesday.
The accused were arrested on Aug 1, following a murder investigation, a press release distributed by the Jieyang intermediate court, said.
Two of the defendants, Guan Dadu and Liu Haiqun, had been wanted for murder since June, it said.
After playing a part in the murders, Liu is alleged to have transported the corpses to a pig ranch in a village in Jieyang.
There, a third defendant, Liu Muqun, is thought to have watched over the bodies until Guan sold them to buyers.
The local government refused to disclose any further details or how many murders the gang is alleged to have committed.
A relative of one of the victims, Wei Shao'e, is requesting more than 166,000 yuan ($24,000) in compensation.
The gangsters allegedly killed, physically, mentally disabled, and elderly people, and sold their corpses to families who wanted to bury their dead, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported earlier this year.
The report claimed government and police spokesmen had said wealthy people who did not want their dead relatives cremated had bought the corpses, which were later interred according to traditional customs. Burial was a widespread tradition in China for several thousand years until the mainland outlawed it in the 1950s, enforcing cremation to spare farmland.
The case continues.