Seven People Publicly Sentenced To Death For Drug Crimes In China

By Paul Gaita 12/21/17
Thousands watched on as the drug suspects were sentenced to death for drug crimes.
a stadium in the city of Lufeng where the public sentencing took place.
Hundreds gathered at a stadium in the city of Lufeng to witness the public sentencing. Photo via YouTube

A morbid spectacle unfolded before thousands at a sports arena in Southern China, as 10 people were sentenced to death, including seven for alleged drug trafficking. The executions were conducted as part of a new anti-drug campaign conducted by the Chinese government, which previously conducted a similar public trial of 13 individuals on similar charges in June 2017, after which eight were executed.

Despite 2015 reforms by the Chinese government to its strict death-sentencing policies, the executions highlight the country's alleged reputation as one of the world's leading proponents of executions, especially in regard to drug-related offenses.

Twelve individuals were brought to a stadium in the city of Lufeng on December 16, and forced to stand on stage before the assembled crowd as their sentences were read. Seven of the 10 were charged with drug-related crimes, while three others were accused of murder and robbery, though details of the charges and the accused individuals' names were not announced.

It is unknown what the two remaining people were being charged for. The 10 on stage were all sentenced to death and taken away to be executed. Slogans for the new national campaign were reportedly on display throughout the stadium.

Lufeng has been in the crosshairs of the State Anti-Drug Committee for a number of high-profile cases in recent years. Police and military personnel raided a village near the city in 2014 and detained nearly 200 residents there after reportedly seizing three metric tons of crystal meth.

But as High Times noted, the city has also been the site of angry clashes between residents and local government, including a 2011 incident in which offices were ransacked in protest over farmland seized for development by authorities. 

China's highest court, the Supreme People's Court, amended the country's Criminal Law in 2015, removing the death penalty for several crimes, ranging from counterfeiting currency, obstruction of an officer on duty and "fabricating rumors to mislead others during wartime" to smuggling weapons and nuclear material. These charges were reduced to life imprisonment—which in some cases, remains a harsh sentence—but drugs remain a crime punishable by death.

China does not release statistics for the number of executions it carries out each year, but according to a 2013 report by Amnesty International, it is believed to sentence and execute thousands of its citizens each year for crimes, including drug offenses.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.