Execution prompts new calls for death sentence abolition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 December, 1998, 12:00am

The execution of crime boss Cheung Tze-keung has renewed calls from campaigners for the abolition of the death penalty on the mainland.

Human rights workers have blasted mainland officials for the rushed executions, carried out less than two hours after an appeal verdict was rejected.

Catherine Baber, China Researcher for Amnesty International, said: 'This is another case to add to the thousands of other cases which show why we want to get rid of the death penalty.

'In the Big Spender case there were serious concerns that it had been an unfair trial. There is also a growing concern among academics in China on whether the death penalty should be used.' Amnesty International reported in January last year that mainland officials had executed at least 1,000 people between April and May 1996 with thousands more executions likely to have gone unreported.

Father Franco Mella, who teaches English on the mainland and is a member of the Hong Kong-based Joint Committee for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, said: 'In China you can see people paraded on the TV after they receive death sentences.

'There are more and more people now who believe that if China is to be a civilised country the death penalty must go. The death of Cheung Tze-keung is just the beginning of another long journey for us to get rid of the death sentence.

'We wanted him and the others to live and this has been a setback but we will continue our campaign.' Father Mella wrote to President Jiang Zemin on behalf of Cheung and other gang members who faced the death sentence.