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China: Death penalty

, Index number: ASA 17/055/1996

Wu Yidong, Wei Yongling, Wu Zhe, Wang Kaiyou: The above were reportedly sentenced to death for tax fraud on 18 April 1996. They were convicted of selling illegally purchased tax receipts.

EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 17/55/96
EXTRA 56/96 Death Penalty 23 April 1996
Wei Yongling
Wu Zhe
Wang Kaiyou
On 18 April 1996 a court in China's northeastern Jilin province reportedly
sentenced four people to death for tax fraud.
The four - Wu Yidong, Wu Zhe, Wei Yongling and Wang Kaiyou - were convicted
of selling illegally purchased tax receipts in the southern province of
Guangzhou, from which they allegedly made more than 520,000 yuan (US $62,650).
It was reported that two other members of the same group were sentenced to
life imprisonment.
Under Chinese law, the defendants have between three and 10 days after the
passing of sentence to appeal to another court. It is not known exactly how
many of the four will appeal. If no appeal is lodged, their sentences will
be automatically referred for review to Jilin Province High People's Court.
This court must then rule on the appeal or review the case within one and a
half months. This process can be accelerated and review of death sentences
can take place within only a few days after the trial. Successful appeals are
The death penalty is used extensively in China. In 1995 Amnesty International
recorded over 3110 reported death sentences and 2189 executions, although it
believes these figures to be well below the actual number of death sentences
and executions carried out. The increased use of the death penalty in China
since the late 1980s has occurred in the context of continuing "anti-crime"
Amnesty International is concerned that death sentences in China are meted
out following trials which fall far short of international standards for
fairness. Defendants do not always have access to lawyers. In death penalty
cases, lawyers, when available, usually have no more than one or two days to
prepare a defence. Death sentences are often decided in advance of the trial
by "adjudication committees" whose decision is seldom challenged by the courts.
Chinese legal experts have in recent years criticized the practice of pre-trial
verdicts, but it is reported to be still widespread.
Amnesty International is also concerned that the use of the death penalty in
China appears to be discriminatory; it tends to apply disproportionately to
people of low social standing who have neither the social nor the political
status enabling others to defend themselves against the accusations.
Furthermore, cases have been reported in which death sentences were imposed
on the basis of confessions extracted through coercion or torture.
The range of crimes carrying the death penalty increased last year and two
further non-violent economic crimes of "financial irregularities" and VAT fraud
were added to the list of crimes punishable by death.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or Chinese or in your own language:
- expressing opposition to the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate form
of cruel and inhuman punishment and as a violation of the right to life as
guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- urging that the death sentences passed against Wu Yidong, Wu Zhe, Wei Yongling
and Wang Kaiyou be commuted.
Governor of the Jilin Provincial People's Government
Wang Yunkun, Shengzhang
Jilin Sheng Renmin Zhengfu
Changchun Shi
Jilin Sheng
Zhongguo 130051
People's Republic of China
Telegrams: Governor, Changchun, Jilin Province, China
Salutation: Dear Governor
President of the Jilin Provincial High People's Court
Yang Qingxiang, Yuanzhang
Jilin Sheng Gaoji Renmin Fayuan
34 Xinfa Lu
Changchun Shi
Jilin Sheng
Zhongguo 1350051
People's Republic of China
Telegrams: President, Provincial High People's Court, Changchun, Jilin, China
Salutation: Dear President
President of the Supreme People's Court of China
Ren Jianxin, Yuanzhang
Zuigao Renmin Fayuan
27 Dongjiao Min Xiang
Beijing Shi
Zhongguo 100726
People's Republic of China
Telegrams: President, Supreme People's Court, Beijing, China
Faxes: +86 10 512 5012
Salutation: Dear President
Chief Editor, Gao Di, People's Daily
Gao Di, Zong Bianji
Renmin Ribao
Jintaixi Lu 2
Beijing Shi
Zhongguo 100733
People's Republic of China
Faxes: +86 10 509 1982 / 509 1406
and to diplomatic representatives of 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 25 May 1995.

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