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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 March 2008, 09:45 GMT
China court rejects death rulings
Chinese prisoners being prepared for execution - archive picture
China says conditions are not ripe to abolish the death penalty
China's Supreme Court has rejected 15% of all death sentences handed down by lower courts in 2007.

Chinese media quoted the Supreme Court chief judge as saying this was due to unclear or insufficient evidence and wrong application of procedures.

Huang Ermei said that China had no plans to abolition the death penalty.

Amnesty International says China carried out two-thirds of the world's executions in 2006. Official figures are a state secret in China.

Penalty to stay

But China says the number has fallen since an amendment came into force in January 2007 requiring the Supreme People's Court to approve all death sentences.

China is believed to execute more people than rest of the world combined
Non-violent crimes such as tax fraud and embezzlement carry death penalty
Other crimes include murder, rape, robbery and drug offences
China does not publish official figures on executions
Many cases are based on confessions and trials often take less than a day, observers say

Judge Huang Ermei was quoted by the Chinese media on Saturday as saying the verdicts for 2007 had been overturned "because facts surrounding initial convictions were unclear, evidence insufficient, punishment inappropriate, procedures illegal and other reasons".

But the judge said the death penalty would stay in China.

"The abolishment of the death penalty is the trend in international criminal justice, but in our nation we do not have ample conditions to abolish capital punishment," said Ms Huang.

The most high-profile execution in China in 2007 was that of the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, for taking 6.5m yuan ($860,000; 430,000) in bribes and for dereliction of duty.

China to reduce death penalty use
14 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China death penalty verdicts drop
08 Jun 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China executions 'at 10-year low'
05 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China tightens death penalty law
31 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Death penalty 'at record levels'
04 Apr 05 |  Americas
China revises death penalty law
29 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: China
22 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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