China’s Capital Cases Still Secret, Arbitrary

From Washington Post:

Compared with murder and other violent crimes, the charges against Wo Weihan seemed minor, if a little exotic: copying articles from missile technology magazines in a public library, buying four night-vision equipment scopes, gathering information about the health of senior government leaders and collecting documents from a local Communist Party conference.

Yet the once-respected scientist with his own medical research laboratory in the capital was branded a spy and executed last month after a closed trial. His is one of several recent executions that highlight the secrecy, lack of due process and uneven application of the law that continue to surround capital cases two years after China embarked on a radical overhaul of the way it handles the .

Starting in 2007, China began for the first time in more than two decades to require a final review of every capital case by the Supreme People’s Court. The hope was to reduce the number of executions and bring some consistency to a process that had been handled unevenly by lower courts. The former president of the Supreme People’s Court who pushed for the review, Xiao Yang, vowed that the death penalty would be used only on “extremely vile criminals.”

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