China rules out scrapping death penalty for graft

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010 07:38 GMT

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. Click For Restrictions. http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

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BEIJING, Sept 29 (Reuters) - China has never considered
scrapping the death penalty for those found guilty of
corruption, state media quoted a senior official as saying,
even as the country mulls reducing the number of capital
crimes.

Rights groups regularly criticise China over its high
execution rate, secrecy about its use of the punishment, and
range of crimes that carry the death penalty.

In a report issued in March, Amnesty International said it
estimated China executed thousands of people last year, more
than the rest of the world combined. China does not issue
figures on how many people it puts to death every year.

Last month, China&${esc.hash}39;s largely rubber stamp parliament began
considering a proposal to cut the number of offences that carry
the death penalty, including non-violent crimes such as
smuggling historic relics and some tax fraud.

But Chen Sixi, vice-chairman of the parliament&${esc.hash}39;s judicial
affairs committee, told a webcast it was never the intention to
ditch executions for corruption, state news agency Xinhua
reported.

"Corruption-related crimes have seriously impaired the
interests of the country and the people, and China is always
paying special attention to the prevention and punishment to
such crimes," it quoted Chen as saying.

"Criminals convicted of corruption should be subject to
harsh penalties, and the draft amendment to the Criminal Law
was not intended to eliminate capital punishment for such
crimes."

The ruling Communist Party has repeatedly vowed to stamp
out official corruption, a key source of public discontent as
the booming economy gives senior officials many opportunities
to use their power for private gain.

Capital punishment currently applies to 68 offences, of
which 44 are not violent, according to state media.

China has urged courts to be lenient and more cautious
about imposing the death penalty, following a series of
scandals about miscarriages of justice, including where
supposedly murdered people have turned up alive months or years
later.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ken Wills and Jonathon
Burch)

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