Ten people have been sentenced to death in front of a crowd of thousands, including uniformed schoolchildren, in Guangdong province, China.
The crowd gathered in a sports stadium in Lufeng, in the south of the province, to witness the open trial of 12 people on charges of producing and trafficking drugs, robbery, and murder.
Of the ten sentenced to be executed, seven were facing trial for drugs offences. Those sentenced to death were immediately taken to a place of execution where the sentence was carried out. As yet it is unclear what happened to the remaining two.
This is the third occasion since June in which open trials have seen crowds witness death sentences being handed down - though it is thought that the sentences had already been passed and verified by the country's top court in advance before being announced to the crowd.
The process of holding open trials - intended to act as a deterrent to potential criminals - is officially banned in China, but this ban is largely ignored at local level.
Michelle Miao, a law professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the Guardian:
"There's still a disconnect between elites at the national level who tend to be more liberal and want reform, and local officials who want harsh punishments,
"There's still a lot of support in local governments for these type of public trials."
These measures are part of a long-standing war on the drugs business in the province, which is the largest producer of methamphetamine in China.
While still popular in regional China, there is less appetite in Beijing for such trials, according to an opinion piece in the newspaper The Beijing News.
"As the most severe sentence, the death penalty must have a minimum amount of humanitarianism. It is necessary to prevent personal humiliation and other extrajudicial punishments; otherwise it is a serious shame on the serious rule of law," stated the newspaper.
China has committed to executing fewer prisoners in recent years and has reduced the number of crimes punishable by death, but certain offences such as drugs offences and economic crimes still carry the highest penalty.
Thanks to these new rules and other regulations, including the necessity for approval from the Supreme Court on every sentence of death, the number of executions has fallen from 12,000 to 2,000 since 2002.
Despite this, more prisoners are executed in China than all other countries combined, according to estimates from the Dui Hua Foundation, a USA based human rights foundation.
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