Jail for rare China Cultural Revolution murder case: Court

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese court has jailed an elderly man for a murder committed during the tumultuous 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, officials said on Wednesday, after a trial that sparked anger over seemingly selective justice.

Qiu Riren, who is in his eighties, was on Friday condemned to three and a half years in jail for the 1967 killing, said a court official surnamed Chen in Rui'an, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, declining to give further details.

Chinese media said Qiu had been arrested last July. But it was unclear why his case went ahead several decades after the Cultural Revolution, a violent and chaotic period that the government has sought to move beyond without releasing a full historical account.

Qiu had belonged to an "armed group" and strangled his victim - a doctor thought to be a spy - before cutting off his legs and burying him, the state-run China News Service reported earlier.

Chinese social media users decried the trial when state media announced it in February, pointing out that senior officials who stirred up the social and political upheaval had never been held accountable.

Then-leader Mao Zedong had urged ordinary Chinese to struggle against the privileged, resulting in attacks on officials, intellectuals and others.

Neighbours and family members turned on one another while young people formed "Red Guard" units that engaged in mass violence and destroyed cultural relics.

The authorities have never publicly estimated how many died in the Cultural Revolution, while the British historian Roderick MacFarquhar has estimated half a million deaths in 1967 alone.