China now takes the needle to the convict

China has developed a “mobile execution vehicle” to make capital punishment easier to deliver, state press said on Friday.

China is also increasingly adopting lethal injections as a “more humane” method of carrying out death sentences, the Beijing Today reported. The judicial department in southwestern Yunnan province has developed 18 special execution vans that distribute lethal injections to criminals on death row, the paper said.

The 500 000 yuan (60 000 US dollar) vehicles have been sent to Yunnan’s 17 intermediate courts, so the Chinese practice of immediately carrying out executions after sentencing can be done without the usual trip to the execution ground.

“Two farmers from Yunnan province, Liu Huafu, 21, and his accomplice Zhou Chaojie, 25, benefited from the latest advance in China’s judicial system last Thursday afternoon,” the paper said.

The two had been sentenced to death for trafficking heroin, the paper said. Yunnan is the centre of China’s heroin industry.

“The use of lethal injection shows that China’s death penalty system is becoming more civilised and humane,” Zhao Shijie, chairman of the Yunnan Supreme Court told the paper.

Lethal injections only require four people to assist in the execution while the usual practice of death by firing squad needs many guards not only at the execution site, but along the road to the site, it said.

China executes more criminals every year than the rest of the world combined, human rights groups have said.
The number of executions remains a highly confidential state secret. Groups such as Amnesty International have also accused China of harvesting the organs of executed prisoners in an effort to supply its growing market for organ transplants.

Although the article did not raise such accusations, court officials said the contents of the drug cocktails being used in the lethal injections was a state secret. “The fact that so many people are executed is a far more important consideration, it would be hypocritical to herald (lethal injections) as a wonderful advance,” Chen Xingliang, a legal professor at Peking University, told the paper.

“We kill thousands of people every year, this figure cannot be admitted (by the government),” he added. Yunnan province was China’s first province to use lethal

injections and since March 1997, 112 criminal have been executed using the method at the provincial capital’s Kunming intermediate court, the paper said. - Sapa-AFP

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