Chinese man arrested in deaths of 16 homeless people report

Associated Press/July 2, 2003

Beijing -- Police in eastern China have arrested a man suspected of using rat poison to kill 16 homeless people, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

Chen Fuzhou, 29, used Dushuqiang, an illegal poison whose name translates as ``strong rat poisoner'' on his victims between May 25-June 26 in Cangnan county on the outskirts of the port of Wenzhou, Xinhua said. He was captured Tuesday night by police after "five days and night of strenuous effort,'' the report said.

Another of Chen's victims remains in hospital under intensive care, Xinhua said.

The report didn't say how Chen delivered the poison.

However, it said he was a follower of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and poisoned his victims to "raise their status by ending their lives.''

China's communist government labeled Falun Gong an evil cult in 1999 and has hounded its adherents relentlessly while vilifying it in the entirely state-controlled media. Falun Gong followers have been accused by the government of murdering relatives and committing other violent crimes under the group's influence, claims not verified.

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