Saturday, 4 August 2007

Party claims economic penalty 'prudent'

China's ruling Communist Party has claimed it is "prudent" in using the death penalty for economic crimes, as it struggles to contain the threat of widespread corruption.

Gan Yisheng, spokesman for the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the party's Central Committee told a press conference the death penalty was applied to a "very small" number of people for serious economic crimes.

"We are very prudent in using the death penalty to execute perpetrators of economic crimes and the number of death penalties handed down to economic criminals is very small," Xinhua quoted him as saying.

"China has so far kept the death penalty system and the death penalty is applicable to serious economic crimes."

The death penalty has been politically useful for the Communist Party, which uses the execution of officials for corruption to answer mounting public concern and recent widely reported scandals.

On 10 July China executed Zheng Xiaoyu, former director of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), for corruption and dereliction of duty after he was convicted of accepting 6.49 million yuan (US$850,000) in bribes from pharmaceutical companies.

"The reason for Zheng Xiaoyu's death sentence was that the bribes he took were huge and he committed serious crimes," Gan said.

He said China retained the death penalty because of its particular circumstances and its cultural background.

"Different countries have different circumstances and have different cultural backgrounds and views on the death penalty. They also have different legal regulations, which is very natural," he said.

"The fact that China keeps the death penalty is due to its national conditions and cultural background. There is nothing to be criticized."

He claimed there were "very strict controls on the death penalty" and all the death penalty decisions were reviewed by the Supreme People's Court.

Human rights groups report the death penalty is applied to a wide range of crimes in China, and political interference in the justice system is common.

Related stories:
China executes drug regulator -- 12 July, 2007
China call for cautious death penalty - again -- 8 April, 2007
China: Judges try to limit death penalty -- 14 November, 2006
China reforms good, but not enough -- 8 November, 2006
China: Supreme Court review from January -- 1 November, 2006
Political questions over China's new appeal judges -- 2 July, 2006
China to retain death penalty, with reforms -- 13 March 2006

No comments: