2010/07/09

Chinese monk held for murder of priest and nun

BEIJING, July  9, 2010 (AFP) - Police have arrested a 43-year-old Catholic monk who confessed to the murder earlier this week of a priest and a nun in northern China, state media reported Friday.

The suspect, identified as Zhang Wenping, was taken into custody on Thursday in Hohhot in the Inner Mongolia region, and later confessed to the double homicide, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Police are still investigating, the report said. A motive for the crime was not immediately clear.

The priest, Zhang Shulai, and the nun, Wei Yanhui, were found dead on Tuesday in the nursing home where they worked, in a church in the city of Wuhai.

The Xinhua report suggested they were members of the official Chinese Catholic Church. AsiaNews, a Vatican-based news agency, had reported they were members of a church not sanctioned by the government.

China has about five million Catholics who worship at Communist Party-sanctioned "official" churches, while up to 11 million reportedly worship at "underground" churches not approved by Beijing.