World News

China executes three in drugs crackdown

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese courts sentenced five people to death for drug dealing and executed another three in a mass sentencing aimed at drawing public attention to the issue of rising drug abuse, state media reported on Wednesday.

Courts in four Chinese cities handed down verdicts in 20 drug trafficking cases earlier this week to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on Thursday, Xinhua news agency said.

“As the number and scale of drug dealing cases have been increasing in recent years, the court has raised its strength to crack down,” the report quoted Zhang Zhijie, a judge at Shanghai’s Second Intermediate People’s Court, as saying.

China imposes the death penalty for dozens of crimes, including non-violent offences, and rights groups estimate it executes about 10,000 people a year, more than anywhere else in the world.

China’s ruling Communists virtually eliminated drug use after taking power in 1949, seeing opium addition as a reason for the country’s weakness. But drugs have been making a comeback and last year Chinese police seizures of so called “party drugs” more than doubled.

Reporting by Lindsay Beck; Editing by David Fox