Tea Leaf Nation’s Rachel Lu reports that the Internet is in an “uproar” over yesterday’s execution of “China’s Madoff”, Zeng Chengjie, a once highly regarded rags-to-riches real estate developer, due to the fact that his family was never notified and “did not see his body before it was cremated.” Zeng allegedly defrauded investors out of more than RMB2.8 billion (US$460 million), money he applied to his urban development projects in Hunan. Lu reports on the controversy surrounding Zeng’s death sentence:
While most Chinese people still support the death penalty, executing non-violent, white collar criminals for economic crimes has become very controversial. Alleged official misconduct in these cases often become contentious issues, as local governments inevitably play some role in serious economic cases. Supporters for Wu Ying have implied that her trial was an attempt to silence her before she could blow the whistle on local corruption. According Zeng’s daughter, China’s supreme court approved Zeng’s death sentence after the party boss of Hunan at the time of Zeng’s conviction became the chief justice.
Faced with questions about Zeng’s secret execution, the Intermediate People’s Court in Changsha tweeted on Sina Weibo that China’s laws do not decree that a death row inmate must meet with his family before execution, but astute Internet users pointed out that the Supreme People’s Court did in fact issue an interpretation that gives death row inmates the right to meet with family. The Changsha intermediate court soon deleted the tweet, but Internet users had already taken screenshots of its tweet, as evidence of the sloppy nature of the case’s handling and the potential deprivation of due process.[Source]
Lu adds that Zeng’s daughter, who has protested against her father’s execution on weibo, maintains that the local government “encouraged” her father’s fundraising activities until 2009 when Party members “took out their investments,” leaving her father “holding the bag” so that a state-owned asset company “gained a huge profit from Zeng’s fall from grace.”
Read more about China’s death penalty via CDT.