Thousands of people recently attended a Chinese stadium, but they weren't watching a sports event. Instead, they came to witness 10 people be sentenced to death for crimes ranging from murder to drug trafficking and robbery.
In a scene which barely resembled a legal proceeding, 12 suspects were paraded around a track inside the stadium in handcuffs while the audience looked on from the stands. They stood on a podium as their sentences were shared aloud over loudspeakers. Photos and videos of the event have been circulating on social media.
— touchstone试金石 (@jcweb11) December 18, 2017
One video shows a suspect being loaded into the back of a police truck, while those behind the camera can be heard wailing. Military guards are seen throughout the stadium.
The open-air trial took place in Lufeng, southern Guangdong province, on Saturday, AFP reported. Local residents were invited to sit and watch the open-air trial via a public announcement system by Lufeng City People's Court last week. As evidenced by the packed stadium, many were eager to attend the event. Some of the onlookers were in school uniforms.
Ten of the 12 suspects were sentenced to death in front of the crowd and immediately taken away for execution. They were convicted of drug-related crimes, murder, and robbery.
As the trial took place, slogans promoting a nationwide campaign to crack down on drug crimes could be seen on posters across the stadium, according to the South China Morning Post. Lufeng City is one of the country's largest producers of methamphetamine and one of the major focuses of the state anti-drug committee's war on drugs.
Police in Guangdong province confiscated 10.4 tonnes of drugs during the first 10 months of 2017, according to Zhai Kaixia, head of the provincial drug bureau, as cited by Xinhua. A total of 16,000 suspects were also detained during that period.
The Saturday incident has been slammed by William Nee, a China researcher at Amnesty International. "By carrying out yet another mass execution, the second in the span of five months, the Chinese authorities have once again displayed a blatant disregard for human life and dignity," he wrote on Twitter.
By carrying out yet another mass execution, the second in the span of five months, the Chinese authorities have once again displayed a blatant disregard for human life and dignity. https://t.co/tLLT7sYa4o
— William Nee (@williamnee) December 18, 2017
It's not the first time that such a public sentencing has taken place at the stadium. A similar situation took place six months ago, with 18 people who were convicted of drug crimes. Eight of those were executed immediately following the verdicts.
Meanwhile, Lufeng isn't the only Chinese city where mass sentencing has taken place. In 2014, China sentenced 55 people on charges including terrorism inside a stadium in Yining, Xinjiang province, in front of some 7,000 people. At least one was later executed.
Although rights groups say China executes more people than any other country, Beijing does not release those figures, claiming the numbers are state secrets. In April, Amnesty International called China the "world's biggest executioner," saying it must come clean about its "grotesque" level of capital punishment.
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