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Lethal injections replace firing squads

world Updated: Jun 16, 2009 23:50 IST
Reshma Patil

China plans to execute criminals on the capital’s death row by lethal injection instead of gunshot and firing squads.

The procedure will be swapped in Beijing by the end of this year.

Death by lethal injection is ‘cleaner, safer and more convenient,’ Hu Yunteng, the director general of China’s Supreme People’s Court research bureau, told the State-run China Daily newspaper.

“Criminals condemned to execution by gunshot need to be delivered from the detention house to a large open area, a process requiring a lot of judicial resources, including armed police,’’ the newspaper reported on Tuesday.

China is said to have the highest record of death penalty and executions but official data is not made public. Official media reports said a new lethal injection facility with rooms for execution, observation and the storage of bodies, has been set up 20 km northwest of downtown Beijing.

“As lethal injection is the most popular method for execution adopted by countries with capital punishment, China will follow suit,’’ Yunteng was quoted saying. “It is considered more humane as it reduces criminals’ fear and pain compared with gunshot execution.”

Judicial police will be trained to deliver the prisoners and administer the dose, while medical staff will supervise and confirm the deaths, said the report.

In 1997, China legalised lethal injection as an alternative method to execute criminals.

Kunming city in China’s southwest was the first to adopt the method and Beijing has used the injection on some convicted prisoners since the year 2000.

An estimate of the human rights group Amnesty International, quoted in Reuters, said 1,718 people were executed last year in China.