EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 17/36/97
EXTRA 102/97 Imminent execution/Death penalty/Ill-treatement17 July 1997
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA Ji Xiaowei
Ji Xiaowei, a 41 year-old Hong Kong citizen who was sentenced to death in south
China in May 1997 for alleged drug trafficking, is reportedly due to be executed
tomorrow in Shenzhen.
Ji Xiaowei was sentenced to death on 6 May by the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s
Court for the alleged crime of trafficking in heroin. Two co-defendants tried
at the same time, Zhang Xiaozhou and Yu Jiangqing were given, respectively,
the death sentence and the death penalty with suspension of execution for
According to information received by Amnesty International, Ji Xiaowei claims
that his conviction was based on a confession extracted from him under torture
and on the statements of his two co-defendants. It is not known whether they
too may have been subjected to ill-treatment.
Following his arrest on 25 November 1996, Ji Xiaowei was reportedly interrogated
for 50 hours at the Shang Meilin Detention Centre in Shenzhen, deprived of
sleep, denied medicine for high blood pressure and a heart ailment, kicked,
beaten and threatened in order to force him to sign a confession.
The description of the crimes included in the indictment and verdict against
him is allegedly based entirely on his forced confession and his two
co-defendants’ statements which include discrepancies. The evidence presented
at his trial reportedly included photographs of drugs in the co-defendants’
homes. No direct evidence of Ji Xiaowei’s involvement in the trafficking was
reportedly presented at the trial, no witnesses were questioned, and the
co-defendants who pleaded guilty were not cross-examined in any meaningful
way about their account of Ji Xiaowei’s involvement.
Ji Xiaowei and his lawyer appealed against the verdict on the grounds that
the evidence presented at the trial was based solely on the defendants’
statements and that his statement had been extracted from him under torture.
In both cases, this is illegal under China’s Criminal Procedure Law. However,
the original sentence was upheld.
The decision of the appeal court is final in this case. Although in some cases,
death sentences have to be reviewed and approved by the Supreme People’s Court
(SPC) before they are carried out, truncated procedures currently apply in
Guangzhou for death sentences for narcotic offences so that the approval of
the SPC is not necessary before execution takes place.
It is believed that the execution of Ji Xiaowei’s death sentence will be
announced on 18 July at 8 am at the Shenzhen City Intermediate People’s Court,
to be carried out straight after. Though little is known about his two
co-defendants, it is also feared that Zhang Xiaozhou, who was sentenced to
death without a reprieve, may be executed at the same time.