A Chinese man has reportedly been issued with a suspended death sentence for committing murder as part of an elaborate funeral body swap incident.
A man with Down's syndrome was kidnapped and killed in a sordid plot after a wealthy family hired someone to procure a body for them in order to get around restrictions on traditional burials, the BBC reported.
In parts of China, traditional burials are banned as the government tries to push cremations to preserve the use of land.
Before he passed away from cancer, a man in Shanwei city in Guangdong province in the country's southeast reportedly told his family he wanted a tradition burial.
According to the BBC, the family hired someone to procure a body to swap inside a coffin for a cremation ceremony, so they could secretly bury their loved one.
Unbeknownst to them, the person they hired went on to murder a man with Down's Syndrome to provide the body.
Victim taken off street and murdered
According to reports, the killer saw his victim on the street and persuaded him to get into his car before plying him with alcohol until he passed out.
The victim's body was then put into a coffin and passed on to the family days later.
Court documents show the convicted murderer, identified only as Huang, was paid 107,000 yuan for providing the body (about A$20,000).
The murder happened in 2017 with the subsequent missing persons case reportedly taking more than two years to solve.
Huang was given a suspended death sentence by a court in Shanwei in September 2020.
The story only gained prominence last week after an article about the victim's family came to wider attention online in China.
Despite governments promoting cremations in certain regions of the country, traditionally Chinese people believe burial is "the proper way to handle a dead body", the official Xinhua News Agency says.
According to English-language newspaper The South China Morning Post, searches on China Judgements Online reveal more than 200 verdicts since 2012 that involve “trading corpses” or “stealing corpses”.
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