Religious group founder defendant in starving death
By Joy Lee ,The China Post
December 11, 2013, 12:30 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The founder of religious group “Ri Yue Ming Gong” (日月明功) Chen Chiau-ming (陳巧明) has been listed as a defendant after being accused of starving a 17-year-old high school student, surnamed Chan, to death in June, the Changhua District Prosecutors Office said yesterday.
According to prosecutors, the father of the victim, who was locked up for 18 days with no food inside Chen's house, told prosecutors that he wanted to sue Chen for causing the death of his son.
Prosecutors said that based on the evidence they collected and the testimonies of the victim's mother, surnamed Huang, they decided to list Chen as defendant for this case.
According to prosecutors, Huang admitted that several members of Ri Yue Ming Gong, a religious group that is not registered with the government, helped to tie up her son.
The victim's father and older sister both suspected that those members may have also tortured Chan when he was locked up inside Chen's residence.
According to the police, Huang had assumed her son was abusing drugs, and therefore took her son to a meeting of the Ri Yue Ming Gong group to enter rehabilitation. However, the prosecutors said that the autopsy report suggested that Chan did not take any drugs.
The prosecutors also said that they are investigating if Chan's confession letters were written under duress.
Prosecutors yesterday conducted a search at Chen's residence, which also functions as the headquarters of Ri Yue Ming Gong, for new evidence, but stated that no one was questioned at that time.
This past May, Huang reported to police that her son had died from drug abuse. However, authorities did not find any traces of drugs, but rather evidence of torture, a police statement indicated.
According to the police, Huang locked her son up for 18 days, providing him with only water and congee to eat. Authorities also allege that he was beaten with pipes and bamboo sticks. Huang's son was later declared dead at a local hospital.
The religious group was founded in 1977 by Chen, granddaughter of the well-known writer Chen Shiu-gu (陳虛谷). Participants have to pay an annual fee of NT$60,000 to NT$70,000, and practice qigong (氣功) at regular meetings. Chen taught her believers, who are all women, not to trust men.