China executes killer of pregnant ghost bride

BEIJING (AFP) - A man who murdered a pregnant woman in China to sell her corpse as a "ghost bride" has been executed, state media reported on Thursday.

Wang Hairong was put to death earlier this week, the Legal Daily said citing a court in Yan'an in the northern province of Shaanxi.

Wang and two accomplices persuaded a woman, identified only by her surname Luo, to accept a lift in their car in May 2011 and strangled her, the report said. She was pregnant at the time.

They drove to a nearby town and sold Ms Luo's body for 22,000 yuan (S$4,500) to a family as a bride for their dead son in a "ghost marriage", it said.

Wang took 14,000 yuan, with the rest of the money divided between the other two, it added.

Marriage is an important part of Chinese society. While the practice is increasingly rare, "ghost" weddings are still carried out by some families in parts of Shaanxi and neighbouring Shanxi.

If a young adult son dies before having had a chance to marry, he will be buried next to a woman after a wedding ceremony of sorts, to prevent the man's spirit being lonely in the afterlife and bringing misfortune on his family.

In March Chinese media reported that four people had been jailed for digging up corpses to sell as ghost brides.