Monday, 6 March 2006

Death for bag-snatchers

Bag-snatchers in China's Guangdong province may now face the death penalty, according to Amnesty International (AI).

AI said the Vice-President of the Guangdong High People's Court, Chen Huajie, announced on 28 February that the penalty for bag-snatching had been increased to a minimum prison sentence of three years, and can now include the death penalty. The ruling would apply to drive-by thieves who used violence.

AI urged the Supreme People's Court to immediately review the decision "with a view to overturning it". Mark Allison, East Asia researcher at Amnesty International said: "Extending the death penalty to cover more crimes goes against the international trend towards abolition."

The organisation said Chinese legal scholars had "voiced doubt over the decision". It quoted comments by Professor Dong Likun from Shenzhen University in Guangdong, a critic of miscarriages of justice under China's regular 'Strike Hard' campaigns against crime. Professor Dong Likun said in the South China Morning Post: "Can we really give the death sentence to a purse thief?"

Read Amnesty International's media release here.

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