A Myanmarese drug lord, nicknamed the Godfather, and his three accomplices convicted of murdering 13 Chinese sailors will be executed on Friday, the government announced on Thursday in a rare public statement on death penalties.
China is known to execute an unknown number of accused every year – by some accounts the largest number in the world - but seldom makes official announcements about executions.
The four accused will be given lethal injections on Friday under the supervision of the Kunming People’s Procuratorate in south China.
The ring leader, Naw Kham and his gang members allegedly planned and colluded with a group of soldiers from Thailand to attack on two Chinese cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, on October 5, 2011 on the Mekong River.
Naw Kham was the boss of the largest armed drug trafficking gang on the Mekong River, which flows through China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
According to the government statement, under Naw Kham's instructions, several of his subordinates were also found to have kidnapped Chinese sailors and hijacked cargo ships in exchange for ransom in early April 2011.
“The gang was broken up in early 2012 in a joint operation conducted by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand after the brutal murders of Chinese sailors triggered calls to rein in rampant crime in the border region,” state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Reports said the Chinese government had also thought about using drones to track and wipe out the group.
The gang was also known as the “Mekong River murderers.”
They were brought to China after the arrest. In a swift trial, Naw Kham and the other three convicts were given death penalties on November 6, 2012.
Another two members of Naw Kham's gang, identified as Zha Bo and Zha Tuobo, received a death sentence with reprieve and eight years in prison, respectively.
After their appeals were rejected by the court, their death sentences were submitted to the Supreme People's Court (SPC) in Beijing for review. The SPC president signed an execution order after review procedures were completed.
The Kunming Intermediate People's Court received a judgment regarding the judicial review, as well as the execution order on February 22. The convicts were informed of the judgment on February 24.
The Xinhua reported added that the court has arranged for the consulates of Thailand and Myanmar in Kunming, as well as the convicts' relatives, to meet with the convicts.