China grave-robbers 'sold dead brides'

Four people have been jailed in China for digging up corpses to sell as brides for traditional "ghost marriages" -- where dead single men are buried with a wife for the afterlife -- local reports said.

Marriage is an important part of Chinese society and, while the practice is increasingly rare, it is still kept up by some families whose young adult sons pass away before having a chance to wed.

Normally it is agreed between the families of the dead, but the Xian Evening News said on Saturday that the group "stole female corpses and after cleaning them, fabricated medical files for the deceased and sold them for a high price".

A court in the northern province of Shaanxi had in recent days sentenced the four to terms between 28 and 32 months, it said, adding they "took advantage" of the "bad tradition" of ghost marriages in parts of Shaanxi and neighbouring Shanxi province.

The deceased couples are typically buried side by side after a wedding ceremony of sorts.

Citing the court, the report said the gang made a total of 240,000 yuan ($39,000) from the sales of 10 corpses.

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