The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

China Still Executing Its Own With Little Justice

Posted by iusbvision on December 27, 2008

WASHINGTON POST:

BEIJING — Compared with murder and other violent crimes, the charges against Wo Weihan seemed minor, if a little exotic: copying articles from missile technology magazines in a public library, buying four night-vision equipment scopes, gathering information about the health of senior government leaders and collecting documents from a local Communist Party conference.

Yet the once-respected scientist with his own medical research laboratory in the capital was branded a spy and executed last month after a closed trial. His is one of several recent executions that highlight the secrecy, lack of due process and uneven application of the law that continue to surround capital cases two years after China embarked on a radical overhaul of the way it handles the death penalty.

Starting in 2007, China began for the first time in more than two decades to require a final review of every capital case by the Supreme People’s Court. The hope was to reduce the number of executions and bring some consistency to a process that had been handled unevenly by lower courts. The former president of the Supreme People’s Court who pushed for the review, Xiao Yang, vowed that the death penalty would be used only on “extremely vile criminals.”

While “reforms” have brought down the number of executions 30% form 2006:

Defendants on death row continue to be executed for such nonviolent crimes as illegal fundraising, graft, drug dealing and espionage. They are prosecuted and dispatched with a lack of transparency, according to Chinese lawyers who complain of blocked access to their clients and say many confessions are still coerced.

There are also double standards: Public officials accused of embezzling millions receive suspended death sentences that spare their lives, while ordinary citizens convicted of stealing far less die by lethal injection or a single gunshot to the head, according to lawyers and court records.

China remains the world’s top executioner — the Dui Hua Foundation, a human rights group, estimates that China carried out 5,000 to 6,000 executions in 2007. The same year, the United States executed 42 people. On a per-capita basis, China is estimated to have carried out 30 times the number of executions the United States did.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/23/AR2008122302795.html?wprss=rss_world

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