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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 07:27 GMT 08:27 UK
China executes drug traffickers
China has sentenced dozens of drug dealers to death to mark International Anti-Drugs Day, says state media.

Some 16 people received death sentences in a trial in the city of Chongqing on Saturday and a man was executed in Shanghai, said Xinhua news agency.

Xinhua's website, Xinhuanet, said on Friday executions had also been carried out in several other provinces.

Human Rights group Amnesty International urged China to abolish the death penalty in drugs cases.

Xinhuanet said "dozens" of dealers were sentenced to death across China in the run-up to the international anti-drugs day.

The news agency said that a man was executed in Shanghai on Saturday for smuggling in 1.8kg of heroin from Burma (Myanmar).

Executions were also carried out in the provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shaanxi and Xinjiang, it added.

Most cases involved heroin, opium and ephedrine.

Amnesty International urged Beijing to abandon the policy of imposing the death penalty.

"We have seen an annual spree of executions in China in the run-up to UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in previous years," it said.

"Yet no convincing evidence has ever been produced that the death penalty deters would-be traffickers and users more effectively than any other punishment."

China borders south-east Asia's Golden Triangle and Afghanistan - two of the world's biggest opium production areas.

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