A South Korean prisoner accused of committing drugs offences has been executed in China.
The death sentence was carried out on August 4 in Guangzhou, located in the coastal Guangdong province bordering Hong Kong and Macau.
Beijing was deaf to Seoul’s repeated calls for clemency, a South Korean foreign ministry official said upon sharing the news.
Ahead of the sentence, China had notified the prisoner’s country of origin through diplomatic channels, the official said.
He also said in a statement widely reported by South Korean media: “The government regrets, from a humanitarian perspective, that the execution took place on one of our nationals.”
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The Korean government had asked multiple times Beijing to reconsider or delay the execution, the official also said.
The man executed on Friday had been arrested in China in 2014 on charges of drug trafficking.
Five years later, a district court sentenced him to death, a decision upheld in November 2020 by a court of appeal.
Earlier this year, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court reviewed the decision one last time before ruling the sentence could be carried out.
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Upon his arrest, the man had reportedly been in possession of five kilograms of methamphetamine.
People caught in China smuggling, selling, transporting or producing either more than 1kg of opium or more than 50g of methamphetamine or heroin face the death penalty, life imprisonment or a minimum of 15 years in prison, according to Article 347 of China’s Criminal Law.
Some 70 Koreans are believed to have been arrested or detained for drug offences in China.
Beijing is known to have executed seven South Korean nationals since the 2000s.
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In 2001 the sentence was carried out on a person found guilty of drug offences, while in 2004 on a person found guilty of murder.
The last time China executed a South Korean national prior to Friday was in 2014, when four people found guilty of drug offences died.
The death penalty in China is shrouded in secrecy and the total number of executions carried out every year is unknown.
Nevertheless, NGO Amnesty International believes Beijing to be one of the world’s most prolific executioners, ahead of Iran and Saudi Arabia.
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