China Court Finds Priest Guilty Of Murder

A court in Heilongjiang province has sentenced a local priest to 15 years in prison for the murder of the ex-husband of a parishioner last year.

Father Shang Kanfa was arrested last year after an altercation with a man who came to the construction site of the new Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Church in Hailun city looking for his ex-wife and armed with a screwdriver.

When the priest reportedly intervened, a fight broke out and the man, surnamed Wang, was struck on the head and fell unconscious. He later died in hospital.

Fr Shang will serve his sentence at a prison in Bei’an city, where Church sources say that for the moment he is not permitted to receive visitors. He was also ordered to pay an indemnity of 300,000 yuan (US$47,000) to the family of the deceased.

The priest’s siblings decided not to appeal the decision to a higher court, and the compensation was paid with donations from family members, priests and laypeople, the Church sources said.

“Several diocesan priests and Fr Shang’s family members went to the court and wanted to sit in to hear the judgment. But only his two lawyers were allowed in the closed court,” one Church source said.

Parishioners of Sacred Heart said they were grieved by the verdict, as Fr Shang had served the parish faithfully for 18 years, since he was ordained a priest in 1993.

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