China Executes Cop-Killer

Concerns are raised over the execution of a jobless man who killed six police officers in Shanghai after a failed bid to complain about being beaten in custody.

yangjia-305 SHANGHAI, China: Convicted police killer Yang Jia at his first appeal hearing, Oct. 13, 2008.

HONG KONGAuthorities in Shanghai said Wednesday they had carried out the death sentence handed down to Yang Jia, a man convicted of killing six police officers in the city after attempting to sue police for beating him up.

"In line with an order issued by the Supreme People's Court, the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court executed criminal Yang Jia by injection on Nov. 26," the Supreme People's Court said in a statement.

"Before the execution, the parties concerned arranged a meeting between Yang Jia and his mother, Wang Jingmei," the statement added.

I am not in deep sorrow right now. I am determined to find answers to many unanswered questions for Yang Jia."

Yang Jia's father, Yang Fusheng

Yang, 28, an unemployed resident of Beijing, launched an attack on a Shanghai police station on July 1 and began stabbing people, killing six police officers. Another three policemen and one security guard were injured, according to the official version of events.

He was sentenced to death on Sept. 1 in the first verdict by the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court. He later appealed. On Oct. 20, the Shanghai Higher People's Court upheld the sentence.

The case has raised questions about police harassment, with some regarding Yang as a victim who stood up to abuse commonly suffered by people on the wrong side of the rich-poor divide in China.

Bid to sue

Yang had tried unsuccessfully to sue police for psychological damage caused by being beaten up while in detention over an unlicensed bicycle.

Yang's mother, who raised Yang as a single parent, was detained and placed in a mental hospital following the murders.

Others criticized the various courts' refusal to look further into assertions by Yang's lawyers that he was mentally unstable.

The case has drawn criticism from lawyers for what they say are too many question marks over due process, and from a public which often complains of police abuses of power.

In a case with which comparisons are already being drawn, two police officers in the northeastern city of Harbin have been arrested over the beating death of a college student in a nightclub, authorities said Wednesday.

The move is apparently aimed at quelling increasing public anger at a force which is frequently accused of corruption and abuse of power.

Due process 'lacking'

Liu Xiaoyuan, a Beijing-based lawyer who has advised Yang's mother on her son's case, said there were many holes in the way the authorities handled it.

"This case has raised concerns throughout the country because there were so many problems with due process," Liu said.

"The fact that they didn't return the case for a second [psychiatric] assessment, but just moved directly to approving his execution is going to mean that people lose any trust in the judicial system," he said.

Observers have also expressed concern over the detention of Yang's mother, Wang Jingmei, shortly after her son's arrest.

Wang was held for four months in a police-run mental hospital before being taken Sunday to visit her son in prison and then escorted to her home in Beijing.

Yang's father, Yang Fusheng, showed signs of strain when interviewed before his son's execution.

"Don't ask me all these questions," he said. "Right now we are in the middle of dealing with it. I'm very worried about his mother's health. She is all alone at home," he said.

"I am not in deep sorrow right now. I am determined to find answers to many unanswered questions for Yang Jia," Yang Fusheng said.

"I still remember Yang Jia’s phrase, 'If you don’t give me an explanation, then I will give you an explanation.' I will finish up what Yang Jia has not finished but I will do it in a non-violent way. I will use the law to fight back against those unlawful people, regardless of their rank."

Social realities

Guizhou-based commentator Zeng Ning said the case had attracted such widespread interest because of the social realities it highlighted.

"The reason ordinary people have taken interest in Yang Jia's case has to do with the reason why he killed those policemen, and with all the different social crises which lie behind his case," Zeng said.

He said many people felt that the real issue in the Yang Jia case was the widespread abuse of police power.

On the eve of Yang's execution, Zeng pointed to the beating to death of the Harbin university student.

"People are bound to asking whether the police officers should also be sentenced to death for killing ordinary people," he said.

"In the absence of any major changes in the factors behind the Yang Jia murder case, the story isn't going to end with the trial or the death sentence handed out to Yang."

Another commentator on social affairs, Ai Momo, suggested that this case could have wide-ranging impact.

"Every step of this case, from the first trial through the appeal, was backward," Ai said. "China’s system is determined to go exactly opposite the wishes of the public. It's a dangerous signal and it may have great impact in Chinese society.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Fanghua and Gao Shan and in Cantonese by Grace Kei Lai-see. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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