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China: Imminent execution / death penalty / ill-treatment

, Index number: ASA 17/036/1997

Ji Xiaowei, Zhan Xiaozhou and Yu Jianqing: Ji Xiaowei, a Hong Kong citizen, is reportedly due to be executed on 18 July 1997. He has appealed against the verdict on the grounds that the evidence presented at the trial was based solely on a confession obtained from him under torture and on his co-defendants' statements. It is not known if their statements were also obtained by duress. Though little is known about his two co-defendants, it is also feared that Zhan Xiaozhou may be executed at the same time.

EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 17/36/97
EXTRA 102/97 Imminent execution/Death penalty/Ill-treatement17 July 1997
Zhang Xiaozhou
Yu Jianqing
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
two years.
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.
Many people are sentenced to death and executed every year in China for a large
variety of crimes, including drug offences. Most death sentences for drug
trafficking are passed in south China during annual drives against drugs between
May and July, often after summary trials. In 1996, Amnesty International
recorded at least 534 death sentences and 447 executions for drug trafficking
or possession. Most of them were carried out on or around 26 June, which marks
International Anti-Drugs Day.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally on the grounds
that it constitutes the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment
and that it violates the right to life, as proclaimed in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- urging the authorities to immediately stop the execution of Ji Xiaowei and
any other co-defendant whose death sentence may have been confirmed;
- expressing concern at reports that the only direct evidence in the case was
based on the statements of the defendants and that Ji Xiaowei’s; confession
was coerced from him by force, both of which contravene Chinese law;
- urging the authorities to impartially investigate these allegations, the
result of which should be made public, and to review the case immediately;
- expressing opposition to the imposition of the death penalty and urging the
authorities to commute all death sentences.
President of the Shenzhen City Intermediate People’s Court
President Yuanzhang
15 Hongling Lu
Shenzhen Shi 518000
Telegrams:President Yuanzhang, Shenzhen, China
Faxes:+ 86 755 5560876
Salutation: Dear President
Guangdong Provincial People’s Government
305 Dongfeng Zhong Lu
Guangzhou Shi 510031
Telegrams: Governor, Guangzhou Shi, China
Faxes: + 86 8 20 3135120
Salutation: Dear Governor
President of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China
REN Jianxin Yuanzhang
Zuigao Remin Fayuan
27 Dongjiao Minxiang
Beijing Shi 100745
Telegrams: President, Supreme People’s Court, Beijing, China
FAX:+ 86 10 6512 5012
Salutation: Dear President
Shenzhen TV Station, Fax: + 86 755 5532225
Shenzhen Radio Station, Fax: + 86 755 5410034
Xinhua News Agency, Fax : 86 106 201 9332
China Daily(English Language): Chief Ed: shaon@sun.ihep.ac.cn
and to diplomatic representatives of the People's Republic of China accredited
to your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 14 August 1997.

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