Juvenile may die after death sentences in 'Daimler-Benz' killings

Though Liu Guangyuan is officially recorded as aged 18, his mother has claimed that she had previously inflated his age in order to gain a grant of land and that he is in fact 17 and therefore too young to face the death penalty under Chinese and international law. It is not clear if the courts are looking at this question.

Amnesty International UK Communications Director Mark Lattimer said:

'Amnesty International has previously welcomed China's commitment to stop executing juvenile offenders , yet today's sentence risks precisely that outcome'.

The four Chinese defendants were found guilty of the 2 April 2000 murder of Daimler Benz car company executive Juergen Pfrang and three family members. Press reports have quoted the court's verdict and its remarks on the offence as 'not only a disaster for the victim's family' but one that 'also caused great harm to society'.

This, coupled with the chief judge's remarks that the killings were especially cruel suggests that there is little likelihood of a reduction in sentence on appeal or that the victims' family's reported pleas for clemency will be attended to. It also adds to concern that the co-defendants may receive less than due process in an attempt to play down personal safety fears amongst foreign nationals after extensive media coverage of the Pfrang family killings at a time when China is receiving substantial inward investment.

Background

Executions in China can take place within hours of a sentence being confirmed and any appeals rejected. Appeals against execution are rarely successful. Execution is carried out either with a bullet to the back of the head or by lethal injection.

Amnesty International knows of at least 1,077 executions carried out in China in 1999; the real figure may have been far higher.

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