Top court to review death penalty case

Updated: 2012-02-14 16:42

By Zhao Yinan (

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BEIJING - China's top court on Tuesday issued a rare but long-awaited statement regarding the final review of a highly controversial death sentence imposed on a former billionaire.

Wu Ying, a 31-year-old businesswoman, was sentenced to death in 2009 by the Jinhua Municipal Court in Zhejiang province for a Ponzi scheme in which she illegally raised 770 million yuan ($122 million) from 11 lenders with the promise of high returns from 2005 to 2007. She lost her appeal to the Zhejiang High People’s Court last month. According to China's criminal code, Wu will face capital punishment if the top court approves the judicial decision.

Sun Jungong, spokesman of the Supreme People's Court, said that a judicial review of Wu Ying's death sentence will be conducted "based on facts" and "according to the law".

All death sentences in China are reviewed by the top court before being carried out.

Wu's fate has however roused wide public support and pleas to spare her life. There are still unanswered questions in the case, such as the exact amount of money involved, which could spare her life, according to Zhang Sizhi, a well-known lawyer in an open letter to the top court. Zhang's call was followed by similar pledges from the public.

Sun said that while the case is "complicated" and the amount of money involved is "huge", the review would be handled "with care".

He did not say when the final decision would be handed down. China's criminal code does not stipulate a specific time window for top court's final review of capital sentences.