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4 cult members in custody over teen's starvation death

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Changhua County prosecutors took cult founder Chen Chiau-ming (陳巧明), along with three other members of “Ri Yue Ming Gong (日月明功),” into custody yesterday over charges related to the starvation death of a 17-year-old high school student, despite the fact that Chen denied committing the crime.

Huang Chiue-fen (黃雀芬), mother of the victim, was arrested two days earlier for starving her son to death. Initially, Huang claimed she was helping the victim to recover from drug abuse. However, the investigators found the victim had died of starvation, a different story from that Huang had told police. Prosecutors interrogated Huang on Dec. 12, which led her to testify that several members of Ri Yue Ming Gong were also involved in the starvation case.

In total, 11 members of Ri Yue Ming Gong were accused of committing the crime, including Huang, Chen, Hsu Ai-jen (許愛珍), Liu Hsiang-yi (劉享易), Lin Fu-peng (林甫朋) and others. Among them, Chen, Hsu, Liu and Lin were taken into custody by prosecutors on suspicion of collaborating on their confessions as well as trying to destroy evidence.

Hsu and others confessed during the interrogation that some members hit the victim with pipes and tied him up with ropes under the instruction of Chen. Members of the cult would report to Chen to get further instructions.

Chen denied all accusations from other members of her cult during the investigation. Changhua County Prosecutors' Office Deputy Chief Huang Chih-yung (黃智勇) said these four violated the Offenses Against Personal Liberty act, resulting in the boy's death.

Huang Reveals Four More Defendants

The key turning point of the starvation case was a new affidavit by the victim's mother. Huang gave new testimony saying that Chen, Hsu, Liu and Lin were also involved in the case yesterday morning.

Huang insisted that she was the only person who committed the crime when she was first questioned by police.

In order to facilitate investigations into the case and get more information from Huang, Prosecutor Li Hsiu-ling (李秀玲) visited Huang on two consecutive days and finally managed to convince her to reveal more evidence related to the case. Li said as a mother as well as a Christian, she could put herself into the position of Huang. By doing so, Huang eventually decided to tell the truth about the case and confessed that she was assisted by other members of the group when committing the crime.

According to prosecutors, Huang was a cook for Ri Yue Ming Gong and was possibly easily persuaded by other members of the cult. Also, it was found that the members of Ri Yue Ming Gong review others' faults by criticizing each other publicly. Therefore, the members took action in groups in this case, in accordance with their system. However, the prosecutors are still investigating to uncover further details.

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