[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Apr 12 14:54:34 CDT 2005
Chinese police take heat for coerced confessions
An unusual surge of heated public debate has engulfed China over the
wrongful convictions of two men for murder, one of whom was executed.
The 2 cases have cast a spotlight on police using torture and beatings to
extract confessions from criminal suspects, and the lack of effective
Government censors, sensitive to rising public anger over the cases, have
permitted an unusual outpouring of anger on the Internet and in newspaper
editorial pages over the miscarriage of justice, allowing apparent
momentum to build for judicial reforms.
In the most recent case, a 39-year-old former security guard from Hubei
province in central China, She Xianglin, was released from prison this
month when it became obvious that he hadn't murdered his wife.
She's wife disappeared in 1994 after a domestic dispute. Soon after,
police found a decomposed female body in a nearby reservoir. Assuming it
was the missing wife, they accused him of murder.
After several rounds of interrogation, She confessed. He was sentenced to
death, but that was reduced later to a 15-year prison term.
She's wife actually had moved to Shandong province in the north, however,
where she married another man. She reappeared in Hubei province in late
She, who was incarcerated 3,995 days, lost part of a finger and all his
toenails under police control, and now has difficulty walking.
He's eligible for 220,000 yuan, about $26,600, in compensation for
His case has touched raw nerves in China, where citizens are gaining
awareness of their legal rights.
By Friday afternoon, more than 1,000 messages about the case had been
posted on a popular Internet portal, Sohu.com. Similar portals had huge
numbers of messages.
Many users harshly criticized the police and courts. Some said they found
She's compensation pitiful. Others flayed police for beating a
"confession" out of him.
"It will be hard for us to achieve a harmonious society if we fail to
bring scum from the law enforcement and legal fields to justice," one user
"I am trembling with fear," another user said. "Maybe the next wronged
person will be you or I."
In the other murder case, a young farmer in Hebei province, Nie Shubin,
was executed in 1994 after courts convicted him of stopping a bicyclist in
a cornfield and raping and killing her.
Earlier this year, a criminal suspect in a neighboring province admitted
to the rape and murder, describing the murder scene in detail.
In describing the cases for its readers, the newspaper Beijing Youth News
lambasted the "dreadful system" that allowed police to pressure people for
confessions, thus allowing an "ironclad case" to be built around specious
Limited judicial reforms may be in the works. The state-owned China Daily
newspaper said this week that the nation's highest tribunal, the Supreme
People's Court, soon might start reviewing every death-penalty case to
ensure "fair and prudent" use of capital punishment.
International human rights groups say that somewhere between 5,000 and
20,000 criminal suspects are executed each year in China, more than in all
other countries combined.
"Torture is endemic" under police detention, said Nicolas Becquelin of the
Hong Kong office of Human Rights in China. Coerced confessions are
routine, he said.
Becquelin said authorities in Beijing might be allowing the unusual airing
of gripes over the legal system to respond to public wishes with limited
reforms that were already in the works.
Authorities keep careful tabs on the airing of grievances on the Internet,
knowing that small protests can turn suddenly into public eruptions of
In a notorious case in early 2004, as many as 100,000 Internet users a day
were posting messages to complain of a BMW driver in the northeastern city
of Harbin who was acquitted after she ran over a peasant and killed him.
(source: Contra Costa Times)
Sons bid to free father on death row
2 14-year-old Singapore brothers have begun a rare campaign in the city
state to free their jailed father from death row, where he faces execution
for trafficking about 1 kg of marijuana.
Twins Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, on the advice of their father's
lawyer, handed out about 500 flyers in a busy shopping districtseeking
support for a petition against the execution, saying their father's death
would make them orphans.
"My parents are divorced and my father has been looking after us. My
mother remarried, lives somewhere else and doesn't see usanymore. If he is
hanged...we will become orphans," 14-year-old Krishnan Murugesu was quoted
by local Today newspaper as saying onTuesday.
The twins, under care of their unemployed grandmother since their father
was arrested in August 2003, rely on handouts from a welfareagency for
daily expenses, said his lawyer, M. Ravi.
Shanmugam Murugesu, 38, arrested at the Malaysian border, lost an appeal
against a conviction of trafficking about a kg (2.2 lb) ofcannabis. His
lawyer is seeking clemency from Singapore President S.R. Nathan.
Singapore enforces some of the world's toughest drug laws. Anyone aged 18
or over convicted of carrying more than 500 grammes ofcannabis faces
mandatory execution by hanging.
In its 2004 report, rights group Amnesty International said about 400
people have been hanged in Singapore since 1991, mostly for drug
trafficking, giving the wealthy city-state of 4.2 million people possibly
the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population.
Amnesty said only 6 people sentenced to death in Singapore has been spared
Singapore has staunchly defended its use of the death penalty and
maintained that capital punishment has deterred major drug syndicatesfrom
establishing themselves in Singapore.
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