Two suspects sentenced to death for poisoning martial arts school in China 27 years ago

Two suspects who put poison into food at a martial arts school in China’s  Anhui province 27 years ago — which led to the deaths of seven children students — were sentenced to death on Monday, according to the local court.

According to a statement by the Ma’anshan Intermediate People’s Court on Monday afternoon in Anhui province, the suspects must also pay economic compensation to the victims’ families.

The two suspects, Fu Zejie and Zhu Zulin, had been on the run until they were arrested in May, according to previous information from the local authorities.

Around 1994, Zhu ran a training institute for martial arts, or wushu, with another person in the county surnamed Peng.

Due to business conflicts, Peng quit the institute and took most of the institute’s students and some of the workers to establish the new Nanbei Shaolin Martial Arts School in October 1995, according to the court statement.

Fu joined the new school as a coach in August 1996 but later became dissatisfied with Peng over trivial matters. Then, Fu and Zhu planned to ruin Peng’s school, ultimately deciding on poisoning.

Zhu promised to pay Fu 50,000 yuan ($6,980) for the poisoning and gave a 500-yuan down payment, the local police said at a news conference in late October.

On the night of June 29, 1997, Fu snuck into the school’s kitchen, put two packs of rat poison into the pickled vegetables, and then stirred the food before running away.

The following morning, more than 100 teachers and students started to show symptoms of vomiting and convulsions, and seven students later died, according to the court.

After the poisoning, Fu tried to contact Zhu twice via phone — the first call connected but was disconnected, and the second call never connected, according to the local police.

The police identified the pair as suspects but were unable to locate them and added them to the national wanted list.

In the past decades, Fu and Zhu never met each other until they were arrested in May in Fujian and Guizhou provinces, respectively.

The victims’ families also sought economic compensation totaling 7.65 million yuan, according to a report released on Sunday by Jimu News, a Hubei-based news outlet.

The court’s Monday statement did not mention the judged sum of the economic compensation.