Corpses Being Dug Up, Sold in China
2 government officials allegedly purchased some in order to meet cremation quota
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2014 6:03 AM CST
Two officials in China are accused of purchasing corpses from a grave robber.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

(Newser) – Two officials in southern China offered up a pretty bizarre explanation after being arrested for allegedly purchasing dug-up corpses, according to local media: They needed to meet their cremation quotas. The official Xinhua news agency reports that the case had its beginnings in June, when a resident of Beiliu City in south China's Guangxi region reported that his dead grandfather's body was taken from its grave; police investigated and ended up arresting an alleged grave robber surnamed Zhong the next month. Zhong confessed to stealing more than 20 corpses under the cover of night—and then selling them to two officials from neighboring Guangdong province. The suspects, officials surnamed He and Dong, were then arrested. China has been encouraging cremation as a way to preserve more land for farming and development, reports the BBC.

Some residents have been burying family members in secret to sidestep the new policy, and in May, Shanghaiist reported that six elderly residents of Anhui, a town that banned burials outright, killed themselves before the change went into effect in order to secure a burial. In Gaozhou City and Huazhou City, the local governments had set cremation quotas based on the previous year's deaths, and He and Dong were charged with implementing the funeral changes. They allegedly told police they bought the bodies in order to hit their quotas; Dong is said to have spent nearly $5,000 on 10 corpses, while He allegedly bought an unspecified number for about $250 each. Elsewhere in China, 11 have been arrested for their alleged connection to a "corpse bride."