Chinese computer gamer sentenced to death for killing fellow player

An online gamer was sentenced to death over the murder of a fellow player in a dispute over a virtual weapon used in a fantasy game, a news report said Wednesday.

Qiu Chengwei, 41, was found guilty of stabbing to death Zhu Caoyuan, a fellow player of a popular game called Legend of Mir III, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

His sentence was suspended for two years by Shanghai's No. 2 Intermediate People's Court and could be reduced to 15 years in prison with good behavior, Xinhua said.

Qiu confronted Zhu in February after learning that he sold the virtual weapon lent to him by Qiu. Qiu reported the loss of the "Dragon Saber" to police but was told it wasn't real property protected by the law.

Prosecutors said Zhu promised to hand over the 7,200 yuan (US$870; Ђ670) that he received but Qiu grew impatient and attacked Zhu at his home, stabbing him repeatedly in the chest. Qiu surrendered to police and claimed he didn't mean to kill Zhu.

Often violent online fantasy games are hugely popular in China, attracting tens of millions of players.

A court official, Chen Zhongyi, said he was unable to confirm the sentence or other details of the case.

Xinhua quoted the victim's father Zhu Caoyuan, Zhu Huimin, as saying the family would appeal

Zhu "was sleeping when Qiu broke into his home. He was barely able to put on his pants before Qiu stabbed him," Zhu Huimin was quoted as saying.

"We want Qiu to die, and immediately," Zhu said.

Associated Press

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