Page last updated at 07:55 GMT, Saturday, 1 May 2010 08:55 UK

Taiwan conducts rare executions

Taiwan's justice minister Tseng Yung-fu (March 2010)
The new justice minister was said to be under pressure from victims' families

Taiwan has put four men to death, the island's first executions since 2005.

They had been convicted of a range of "grave offences such as fatal kidnappings and murders", the justice ministry said.

Correspondents say the new justice minister, Tseng Yung-fu, had been under pressure from victims' families to resume executions.

Capital punishment is a sensitive political issue in Taiwan, and is widely supported by the public.

The men were shot by firing squad, officials said.

A Taiwanese human rights group, the Foundation for Judicial Reform, condemned the executions, saying the ministry had deliberately hastened the process.

The former justice minister stood down in March after refusing to sign death warrants for 44 prisoners.

The last executions in Taiwan were of two people in 2005. A total of 49 people were put to death between 2000 and 2005.

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