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Beijing to adopt lethal injection: Chinese state media

world Updated: Jun 16, 2009 10:16 IST

Criminals sentenced to death in Beijing are to be killed by lethal injection, not by gunshot, by year's end, state media said on Tuesday in China, the nation that executes more convicts than any other.

Authorities have built a site next to a prison outside Beijing housing most of the capital's death row inmates where the lethal injections are to be carried out, the China Daily reported.

Officials will soon start training judicial police to administer the injections, and medical staff will learn to supervise the use of drugs, monitor and confirm the deaths, the report said.

Hu Yunteng, head of the Supreme People's Court's research bureau, told the China Daily that lethal injectionis legalised in 1997 was considered cleaner, safer and more convenient than gunshot executions.

"As lethal injection is the most popular method for execution adopted by countries with capital punishment, China will follow suit," Hu was quoted as saying.

"It is considered more humane as it reduces the criminals' fear and pain compared with gunshot execution."

In 2008, more than 1,700 people were executed in China out of a global total of almost 2,400, according to Amnesty International.

China does not publish data on the death penalty, and rights groups say the number could be much higher.In the most recent high-profile case, China executed two Muslim men in its far northwest in April for a "terrorist" attack that was aimed at sabotaging last year's Olympics in Beijing and left 17 policemen dead.

China has slowly been reforming its death penalty system after acknowledging several miscarriages of justice.

At the beginning of 2007, the Supreme People's Court began reviewing every death penalty case rather than allowing lower courts to issue the final judgement a move which China says has led to fewer executions.