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December 30, 2009

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Netizens united in support for court call

CHINESE online users united in backing the equity of Chinese law as a British citizen was executed yesterday for smuggling more than 4 kilograms of heroin into the country.

The response from the public was overwhelming in the virtual world: any person from anywhere who sets foot on Chinese soil must obey the laws of the nation.

In a survey taken by 2,174 Netizens by 6pm on news Website, 1,785 respondents said the dignity of laws could only be recognized when anyone who breached them was punished accordingly.

Some online users dismissed appeals from Western media outlets pleading for lenience for Akmal Shaikh, 53.

The Netizens pointed out that the amount of heroin he carried was far higher than the minimum for a death sentence.

In China, anyone who carries more than 50 grams of heroin faces execution.

"Why should Chinese law be lenient to him; do you have any idea how many Chinese could suffer from the huge amount of heroin he brought in?" a Netizen named bobby wrote.

Another online user, named ptyjlqso, said the Chinese government had done the right thing by executing the offender.

Double standards

The case showed that some Western countries were using double standards when it came to legal affairs with China, Jia Qingguo, vice dean of the College of International Relations of Peking University, told a Beijing newspaper.

For example, Jia said, Western countries ignored repeated Chinese appeals for help in extraditing Lai Changxing, China's most notorious smuggler, who has been hiding in Canada for a decade.

The refusals from Western countries were always based on the excuse of the separation of executive government and the judicial systems, he said.

Lai allegedly handled US$6.8 billion in goods and evaded US$3.8 billion in taxes.

When it came to the Shaikh case, all the British government wanted to do was to interfere in the independence of China's judicial system, Jia said.

Xue Jinzhan, professor of criminal law at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, said the death penalty related to a country's history and culture.

"It's human nature to plead for a criminal who is from the same country or the same family, but judicial independence should be fully respected and everyone should be equal before the law," Xue told Xinhua news agency.


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