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CHINA. DEATH PENALTY DEBATE 10 YEARS TOO LATE FOR NIE SHUBIN, EDITORIAL

March 23, 2005: the following is a summarised editorial appearing in the Toronto Globe and Mail.   When police executed a man named Nie Shubin in 1995, nobody bothered to tell his parents. His father learned of his son's death a day later, when he tried to bring a package of food and clothes to prison. In his home village, south of Beijing, his neighbours were shocked when the shy 20-year-old man was accused of raping and murdering a woman. They knew him as a polite and gentle youth who stuttered when he spoke. He was so meek that he was unable to kill a rooster when his mother wanted to make chicken soup.
Now, a decade later, police have admitted what everyone always suspected: Nie Shubin was innocent. He was executed for a crime he never committed.
The wrongful execution has provoked a major scandal in the Chinese media, fuelling a growing debate over the death penalty in a country that executes far more people than the rest of the world combined. "Given our national conditions, we cannot abolish the death penalty," Prime Minister Wen Jiabao told reporters in Beijing.Yet a growing number of Chinese scholars are expressing their doubts about the death penalty, and government officials are considering reforms to allow greater judicial review of death-penalty sentences.
The intensifying debate has made Nie Shubin's case a cause calibre across the country. Chinese newspapers and Web sites have been carrying poignant stories about the distraught family of the young man. Some reports said the police extracted a confession from him by beating him repeatedly.
"When we heard the truth about the case of Nie Shubin from the newspapers and the Internet, we all cried," Mayor Nie Zhancai told a local newspaper. "He was such a good boy. Even though he was quiet in public, he was very polite and intelligent."
His parents were devastated when their son was arrested in 1994. They were never officially informed of the charge or the verdict. They did not learn any details of the accusations against their son until they read an article in a local newspaper.
After the execution of his son, Nie Shubin's father quit his job and fell into a deep depression. His health deteriorated and he drank half a bottle of pesticide in an attempt to kill himself. He survived only because his wife found him and took him to hospital.
The injustice was finally exposed this year when a man was arrested in a neighbouring province and confessed to four murders, including the murder that had led to Nie's conviction and execution. When he described the scene of the murder, police went there and found that it exactly matched his description.
The police said he knew details that only the killer could have known.The man who confessed, however, has not been charged with the murder because the file on the case has been officially closed. The police who arrested him are seeking to charge him with the murder, but the police who conducted the original investigation are refusing to reopen the case because it would trigger a bureaucratic uproar and a demand for compensation from the family of the executed man, according to local media reports.
Chinese media commentators say the scandal should accelerate Beijing's plans to allow the Supreme Court to review death-penalty cases. "I predict that this case will arouse a strong reaction from the public," one commentator wrote on the People's Daily Web site. "We hope this case will make the Supreme Court take action soon." (Sources: Toronto Globe and Mail, 23/03/2005)

CHINA. TOP GUANGZHOU HOSPITAL DOES ROARING TRADE IN EXECUTED PRISONER ORGANS, EDITORIAL
IRAQ: SADDAM TO GET DEATH SENTENCE, JUDGE
UN. CONCERN OVER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN IVORY COAST
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT. CHINA AND UNITED STATES URGED TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY
COLORADO, USA. STATE HIGH COURT BLOCKS EXECUTION BECAUSE JURORS CONSULTED BIBLE
MALAYSIA. HANGMEN IN LINE FOR A 75% PAY RISE
LIBYA. BULGARIAN NURSES' LAWYER VOWS TO HAVE DEATH SENTENCES OVERTURNED
TERRI SCHIAVO. THE VATICAN IS FUNDAMENTALIST ON EVERYTHING BUT THE DEATH PENALTY
INDONESIA. GOVERNMENT URGED TO EXECUTE CONVICTED DRUG TRAFFICEKRS ON DEATH-ROW SOON
MALAYSIA. COURT AFFIRMS DEATH PENALTY FOR MAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING BANGLADESHI
USA. GOVERNMENT URGES JUDGE TO SET DATE FOR MOUSSAOUI TRIAL
SAUDI ARABIA. MAN BEHEADED FOR MURDER, SORCERY
USA. CATHOLIC BISHOPS CAMPAIGN AGAINST DEATH PENALTY
INDONESIA. WOMAN EXECUTED FOR TRIPLE MURDERS
MEXICO. SENATE VOTES TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY
AFGHANISTAN. 4 SENTENCED TO DEATH IN ATTACKS ON FOREIGNERS
IRAN. MAN CONVICTED OF KILLING CHILDREN WHIPPED THEN EXECUTED IN PUBLIC
CHINA CANNOT ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY: WEN
SAUDI ARABIA. FOUR FILIPINOS BEHEADED FOR MURDERING COMPATRIOT
IRAN. TWO MEN HANGED PUBLICLY FOR RAPE AND ARMED ROBBERY
ITALY. CALDEROLI’S STATEMENT ON UNABOMBER DANGEROUS, D’ELIA
SAUDI ARABIA. TWO GAY LOVERS EXECUTED FOR MURDER OF PAKISTANI
INDIA. 'INDIA CARRIED OUT 1,422 EXECUTIONS IN A DECADE', RIGHTS GROUP
PAKISTAN. TOP ISLAMIC COURT THROWS OUT GANGRAPE ACQUITTAL
UNITED KINGDOM. SCOT ON DEATH ROW IN NIGERIA HAS MURDER CONVICTION QUASHED
SOUTH AFRICA. CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO DECIDE ON DEATH ROW PRISONERS
IRAN. CONVICTED MURDERER HANGED, ROBBERS LASHED
IRAN. JUDICIARY ENDS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST AGHAJARI
CHINA. CHIEF JUSTICE PLEDGES TO IMPROVE DEATH PENALTY REVIEW PROCESS
CHINA ARRESTS 800,000 FOR 'ENDANGERING STATE SECURITY'

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