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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 13:19 GMT
China executes seven for forgery
Chinese banknote
The forging operation ran for four years
The Chinese authorities have executed seven people found guilty of involvement in China's biggest banknote counterfeit case.

The seven were convicted in August last year of forging banknotes with a total value of 640 million yuan ($77m), the official Chinese news agency said.

The gang reportedly eluded detection for years by frequently shifting its printing presses to different locations, including a cafeteria at a Communist Party office.

Chinese police
Chinese police have cracked down on forgers
The 12-member group operated in the southern province of Guangdong from March 1995 until May 1999.

Three others convicted in the case were given jail sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

The other two members were found guilty of lesser charges and were imprisoned for 10 and 12 years.

Campaign

The Chinese authorities have waged several high profile campaigns against forgers.

In the last crackdown which ended in September, police uncovered more than 10,000 forgery cases and arrested more than 13,000 suspects, the People's Daily newspaper reported.

Zhao Yongji, vice-minister of public security, said in November that the six-month campaign was the biggest of its kind since the communists came to power in 1949 and had dealt a heavy blow to the criminals.

The news agency said Thursday's executions were carried out in the Guangdong city of Shanwei, but did not say how.

Limited records

China usually executes criminals with gunshots to the head, although authorities in some regions are experimenting with lethal injections.

The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, said that according to the limited records available at least 1,077 executions were carried out in China in 1999.

Amnesty said these were believed to be only a fraction of the true figures as death penalty statistics remained a state secret in China.

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