China court rejects death rulings

China's Supreme Court has rejected 15% of all death sentences handed down by lower courts in 2007.

Chinese media quoted the Supreme Court chief judge as saying this was due to unclear or insufficient evidence and wrong application of procedures. ( BBC )

Huang Ermei said that China had no plans to abolition the death penalty.

Amnesty International says China carried out two-thirds of the world's executions in 2006. Official figures are a state secret in China.

But China says the number has fallen since an amendment came into force in January 2007 requiring the Supreme People's Court to approve all death sentences.

Judge Huang Ermei was quoted by the Chinese media on Saturday as saying the verdicts for 2007 had been overturned "because facts surrounding initial convictions were unclear, evidence insufficient, punishment inappropriate, procedures illegal and other reasons".

But the judge said the death penalty would stay in China.

"The abolishment of the death penalty is the trend in international criminal justice, but in our nation we do not have ample conditions to abolish capital punishment," said Ms Huang.

The most high-profile execution in China in 2007 was that of the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, for taking 6.5m yuan ($860,000) in bribes and for dereliction of duty.

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