Chinese court uphold death sentences for Myanmar drug lord
From K J M Varma
Beijing, Dec 26 (PTI) A Chinese court today rejected appeals from six people, including the Myanmar drug lord Naw Kham, convicted of murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year.
The court upheld death penalties for the case''s prime convicts Naw Kham and three of his henchmen.
The Provincial Higher People''s Court of Yunnan also sustained death sentences with two year reprieve for the two other Myanmar convicts.
The six were convicted of intentional homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping and hijacking by a local court in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, in November.
Nicknamed "The Godfather," Naw Kham, according to Chinese prosecutors, was the boss of the largest illegal armed drug trafficking gang on the Mekong River, which flows through China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The gang was busted earlier this year in a joint operation conducted by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand after the brutal murders of Chinese sailors triggered calls to rein in rampant crime in the border region.
Naw Kham''s gang was found to have colluded with Thai soldiers and to have organized an attack on two Chinese cargo ships in October last year, gunning down 13 Chinese sailors and trafficking drugs, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The gang was also involved in another kidnapping-for- ransom case targeting Chinese citizens on the Mekong in April last year, according to the court.
All six appealed their sentences after the trial in November.
Naw Kham''s lawyer pleaded for a reduced sentence on the grounds that his client was ordered to pay six million yuan (about USD 953,895) in compensation to the victims'' families.
The provincial higher court heard the appeals on December 20. In the verdict released today, the court said the appeals were rejected due to the "severe outcome" of the crimes.
The death penalties for Naw Kham and three of his subordinates will be submitted to the Supreme People''s Court in Beijing for review prior to the executions, the court said.
It is not clear yet whether Kham would be executed in China.
"I believe the death penalty for Naw Kham is appropriate, or my brother and sister-in-law will not rest in peace," He Xilun, the younger brother of slain sailor He Xixing, told Xinhua.