03/30/2011, 00.00
PHILIPPINES - CHINA

Beijing executes three Filipinos. Church appeals fall on deaf ears

The executions took place today in the prisons of the cities of Xiamen and Shenzhen. The three were arrested in 2008 for drug dealing. Recently, the Philippine government, church and rights groups sent open letters to the Beijing government and organized vigils to ask for a pardon.

Manila (AsiaNews) - Regardless of the appeals from Manila and Catholics, China has carried out the death sentence on three Filipinos accused of drug dealing.  Sally Ordinario Villanueva, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth I Batain were killed by lethal injection. The executions took place in the prisons of the city of Xiamen (Fujian) and Shenzhen (Guangdong). Chinese police arrested the two women and man separately in 2008 after finding about 4 kg of heroin in each of their suitcases. In China, the possession of just 50 grams of drugs carries the death sentence.

In an effort to ask the Chinese government for a pardon, yesterday the Filipino bishops' conference organized a prayer vigil in the capital. In recent days, families and some human rights organizations sent open letters stressing the innocence of the condemned, who they claim unknowingly carried the drugs in their suitcases. President Aquino has repeatedly called for dialogue on the issue with Beijing, however, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that drug trafficking is a serious crime and that justice was done.

Yesterday, a Filipino bishop interviewed by AsiaNews criticized the case, asking countries like China to abandon the use of capital punishment, which removes any possibility and hope  of change, instead to commit themselves to improving their justice systems, which are often imperfect and corrupt.

In recent years several foreign nationals have been sentenced to death for drug dealing on Chinese soil. In 2009 the authorities carried out the conviction on a Japanese, a Nigerian and a Briton. China is the only country where the number of executions has increased rather than decreased. In 2010 alone over 1000 people were executed. In the rest of the world 740 people were executed.

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