EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 17/88/95
EXTRA 129/95 Death penalty 31 October 1995
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA14 people sentenced to death in the Shenzhen Special
Economic Zone, Guangdong Province, including:
Fu Limin (f)
Wen Yana (f)
Xie Xiuyun (f)
On 26 October 1995, after a three-day trial, the Shenzhen Intermediate People's
Court sentenced nine men and five women to death.
The 14 are alleged to have been members of a gang of 16, all of whom were charged
in connection with a series of murders between April 1993 and June 1994.
Reportedly, the women would lure drivers out of luxury cars and into a barber's
shop where they were murdered. One of the defendants, Zhang Xiaojian, who
was reportedly the ring-leader of the gang, was charged with 12 counts of murder
and robbery. Two of the 16, Liu Yuxiang and Qiu Minhui were sentenced to prison
terms of 20 years and three years respectively.
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 16 will appeal. If no appeal is lodged, their sentences will be
automatically referred for review to the Guangdong 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 a few days of the trial. Successful appeals are extremely
The death penalty is used extensively in China. In 1994, Amnesty International
recorded 2,496 death sentences and 1,791 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 occurs in the context of continuing "anti-crime" campaigns.
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