Double murderer executed in southwest China after change of plea fails

Chen Quansong confessed to killing two young girls in 2014, but later claimed he said this under duress

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 April, 2017, 11:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 4:17pm

A man in southwest China who was convicted of killing two girls was executed on Saturday after the execution was called to a halt earlier this year.

Chen Quansong, 30, was found guilty of killing two high school girls on a mountain in Shiqian county, Guizhou province in January 2014. Chen defiled the corpse of one girl and left their bodies in the woods and bushes, the Supreme People’s Court said.

The Intermediate People’s Court in Tongren conducted the execution, the Supreme People’s Court said. The execution had been halted for about three months.

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Chen confessed to the killings after his arrest in March 2014. But he later retracted his confession, saying during the first trial that he had not killed anyone. He said he was threatened and abused under interrogation and forced to sign a confession.

Despite withdrawing his confession, Chen was convicted of intentional homicide and the high court of Guizhou upheld the death sentence in February 2016.

The execution was halted in January upon a petition from Chen’s lawyer, mainland news portal Thepaper.cn reported.

An official with the Supreme People’s Court told Xinhua that they had approved the sentence but Chen’s lawyer later presented evidence claiming that Chen was not at the scene when the crime was committed.

The court investigated the case again before reconfirming the facts of the case.

The court also said Chen’s previous confessions were made “voluntarily and legally” with synchronised audio and video recordings.

The use of the death penalty on the mainland has attracted much criticism, especially in controversial cases. Jia Jinlong, a rural man who killed an official to avenge the forced demolition of his house, was executed in November last year, causing an uproar online as many people had called for his sentenced to be commuted.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International called on China to be more transparent about the number of people it puts to death, saying fewer than one in 10 executions were registered in the national court database.

In its annual global review of executions released on April 10, Amnesty International said it found media reports of 305 executions carried out last year, but only 26 of those cases were in the court database.

The group estimated that several thousand people were put to death last year, without detailing how it arrived at that estimate.

In 2015, Amnesty found media reports of 335 cases of capital punishment on the mainland, 18 of which were in the database.

Beijing has tried to roll back its use of the death penalty, reducing the number of crimes to which it was applicable from 55 to 46 in 2015.