Cult leader and members indicted for murder, abuse of followers

01/21/2020 08:29 PM
Photo courtesy of Taichung prosecutors
Photo courtesy of Taichung prosecutors

Taipei, Jan. 21 (CNA) Ten executive members of a Taiwan-based religious cult, called "Zhonghua Ri Xing Yi Shan (中華日行一善學會)," were indicted Tuesday for involvement in "organized crimes" and the use of physical violence against several members resulting in the death of one in China and the blinding of another in Taiwan.

Based on evidence collected by police during a raid of the cult's premises in central Taiwan, 61-year-old Lin Hsin-yue (林欣月), head of the cult, and nine members of her staff were charged with breaching the Organized Crime Prevention Act, as well as causing bodily harm and bodily injury leading to death, according to the indictment released by the Taichung District Prosecutors Office.

The case stems from March last year, when a Taiwanese woman surnamed Fang (方) was allegedly beaten to death by a cult member at the cult's place of practice in China's Guangxi Province in a form of "exorcism," when she accompanied the cult leader on a visit there, the office said.

In an attempt to evade an investigation by Chinese public security authorities, Lin fled to Taiwan and hid in a mountainous area of Nantou County in central Taiwan, it said.

After learning of the group's possible involvement in Fang's death, Taiwanese investigators raided their headquarters in Nantou County and Lin's home in Taichung on Aug. 21, where they found several cult members were kneeling outside the office after being beaten and seized evidence of the assault.

During the raid the investigators confiscated several items, including doctrine teaching materials, cash, uniforms and steel rods that were allegedly used to beat members.

A follower gets kicked in the chest by another member of the religious cult in this undated photo (Photo courtesy of Taichung prosecutors)
A follower gets kicked in the chest by another member of the religious cult in this undated photo (Photo courtesy of Taichung prosecutors)

Lin, whom her followers address as "Holy Mother," and over a dozen staff were detained for questioning.

Meanwhile, with assistance from Fang's family members, prosecutors obtained a report detailing the cause of Fang's death from the Chinese hospital where she was treated. They also have testimony from Fang's family who visited China to deal with the aftermath the death, the office said.

The cult was established in 2008 by Lin, purportedly to inspire good virtue and promote physical and spiritual health.

Headquartered in Nantou County, it has two branch offices in China, as well as one in Taichung, and about 100 followers, according to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB).

According to the bureau, at least 15 followers have been subjected to physical abuse.

Meanwhile, the cult had also allegedly been persuading minors to run away from home and beating up members who want to leave, the bureau said.

(By Su Mu-chun and Ko Lin)

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