CHINA> Regional
Beijing ready for lethal injections
By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-16 07:59

By the end of the year all criminals sentenced to death in Beijing will receive a lethal injection instead of being executed by gunshot.

A lethal injection site has been built next to the city's No 1 detention house, which houses the majority of the city's condemned, in Dougezhuang town, about 20 km northwest of downtown Beijing, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The Beijing Municipal High People's Court has already made preparations for the change, including allocation of staff and boosting technical capacity.

It will soon start training judicial police, who will deliver the prisoners and administer the injections, and also medical staff who will supervise the use of the drugs as well as monitor and confirm the deaths.

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The new execution site is equipped with rooms for execution, observation and the storage of bodies. The execution bed, injection pump and disinfection facilities are all specially produced, the report said.

Hu Yunteng, director general of SPC's research bureau told China Daily that lethal injection was considered cleaner, safer and more convenient.

Criminals condemned to execution by gunshot need to be delivered from the detention house to a large open area, a process requiring a lot of judicial resources, including armed police.

"Lethal injection will be used in all intermediate people's courts, though such a procedure is not possible in the short term because of the high costs of input and enforcement," he said.

"As lethal injection is the most popular method for execution adopted by countries with capital punishment, China will follow suit.

"It is considered more humane as it reduces criminals' fear and pain compared with gunshot execution," Hu said.

The process of a lethal injection is complete within a few minutes, without pain, twitches and obvious facial changes.

Lethal injection was made legal in China in 1997 when the country's Criminal Procedure Law was amended to provide an alternative method of execution.

Kunming became the first city to use lethal injection the next year, followed by Wuhan, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Luoyang as well as other cities.

Beijing began using the method to execute some prisoners in June 2000.

Hu said only a small number of criminals nationwide had so far been executed by lethal injection.

Han Yusheng, a professor in criminal law with Renmin University of China, said the adoption of lethal injection was the result of the country's economic growth.

"The country's municipalities are taking the lead in using lethal injection for all those sentenced to death," Han told China Daily.

The application of drugs and facilities involved will be under strict management, the official said.

SPC will help equip all facilities and distribute the drugs.

Only the intermediate people's court can carry out the death penalty.