Thousands of spectators filled a stadium in China to watch 10 convicts be sentenced to death for crimes ranging from drug-dealing to homicide before they were taken away to be executed at the weekend. An online video of the rare public trial, held in southern Guangdong province on Saturday, showed the handcuffed convicts paraded around a track by uniformed police officers as onlookers watched from the sidelines.
The convicts also stood on a podium as their sentences were read over loudspeakers, while officials sat on a stage flanked by military guards. Rights groups say China executes more people than any other country, but Beijing does not give figures on the death penalty, regarding the statistics as state secrets.
A public announcement last week from Lufeng City People's Court had invited citizens to sit in on the "open-air stadium trial", as it was dubbed by the state-run Global Times. Beijing News, which circulated the trial video along with several other Chinese media outlets, criticised the court for making a spectacle of the sentences.
Ten of 12 suspects were handed the death penalty and taken away for immediate execution while curious locals, including many young people in school uniform, looked on. "Places may hold public trials in order to intimidate criminals and raise society's sense of security, but they should not violate the basic humanity of the law", a Beijing News commentary said Monday.
The column noted that "from a legal standpoint, the death penalty should not be enacted immediately after the final ruling... the local court deliberately put together this scene for dramatic effect". According to Global Times, an open-air trial for drug trafficking was also held in Lufeng in 2015, with 10,000 people in the audience.
The city is one of the country's largest producers of methamphetamine.