04 January 2008

A kinder, gentler Chinese execution

Lethal injections will become the preferred death penalty in China as shootings are phased out. The reason? It's more humane, says a Chinese government official. Welcome Lucky Olympic Year 2008!

It's also a lot more efficient. Executions by lethal injection are carried out immediately once the order has been made, including in mobile "death buses".

The procedure for shootings is much more elaborate and labour-intensive. The public has to be kept away from a shooting site with three separate perimeters: at 50m by the execution team, at 200m by the armed police and at 2km by the local police.

It's a lot of business for a hollow bullet to the back of the head. Families of the condemned were routinely charged 50 yuan (about $8) as a "bullet fee".

The fleets of death buses also allow for faster organ harvesting, as transplants are in high demand.

Besides murder, rape, robbery and drug offences, the death penalty is ordered for tax fraud, corruption, embezzlement and killing a panda.

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