BEIJING (AFP) – A Chinese “quack” doctor who believes water causes disease and has had at least 16 patients die from his treatment was released early from prison only to kill again, state-run media reported Thursday.
Hu Wanlin, who claimed to be an “omnipotent doctor” but dehydrated a man to death, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for illegally practising medicine, the state-run Global Times said.
Hu, 65, began his so-called healing activities while serving a life sentence for killing a businessman, but was stopped in 1996 after 13 of his patients died, according to reports.
He was freed, but jailed again in 2000 for illegally practising medicine after three more patient deaths, including the then mayor of Luohe city in Henan.
On that occasion Hu was sentenced to 15 years, but he was again given his freedom early, the Global Times said, and mounted a “health retreat” for 12 “patients” last year.
“A 22-year-old college student Yun Xuyang, a devotee of traditional Chinese medicine, died after taking a substance provided by Hu” at the event, the official news agency Xinhua reported.
Hu theorised that all diseases are caused by water, and patients needed to be dehydrated with a “magic medicine” using powerful salts, the Global Times said.
He found the student’s official autopsy result at Wednesday’s trial hard to swallow, the newspaper reported, claiming that he frequently consumes 1.5 kilogrammes of the salt and liquid mixture without any ill-effects.
Beijing’s health insurance provides limited coverage to most rural residents, leading some to seek out cheaper alternative treatments.
China also has a long history of traditional medicine, much of it with no orthodox scientific evidence backing it up, which has been blamed for driving illegal trade in endangered species.
In 2010, the health ministry said a diet therapist who sold more than three million books and DVDs claiming that a combination of mung beans and eggplant could cure almost all diseases had faked his qualifications.
Lu Wei, one of Hu’s proteges who promoted him online as a medical master who could cure diabetes and AIDS, was also sentenced to 11 years in prison by a court in Henan, in central China.