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China executes man who killed local official with nail gun after his home was forcibly demolished

A man who killed a village official in northern China with a nail gun after his home was forcibly demolished was executed on Tuesday, a court said, despite a public outcry over his sentence.

Jia Jinglong killed his village chief in the northern province of Hebei last year, state media said.

Lawyers and online commenters had called for Jia’s sentence to be commuted on the grounds that the demolition of his home by local officials were extenuating circumstances and because he had confessed to the crime.

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The house was pulled down weeks before his wedding day in 2013, the state-run Global Times reported previously, adding he was beaten and denied compensation.

Tuesday’s edition of the paper carried another report with legal experts urging the Supreme Court by letter to halt the execution.

The experts cited “mismanagement” in rural areas and inadequate judicial procedures.

However, the Intermediate People’s Court in Shijiazhuang said in a statement posted on its social media account: “The execution of the murderer Jia Jinglong has been carried out.”

Jia met his relatives before he was put to death “according to the law”, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

Neither the court nor Xinhua specified how Jia was killed, but executions in China are believed generally to be carried out by lethal injection.

Jia’s case sparked widespread debate on Chinese social media. Hundreds signed an online petition calling for the death sentence to be revoked.

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Violent land seizures and forced evictions of villagers by local officials clearing the way for development projects are a major source of social resentment in China, sometimes triggering unrest.

“The reason why this aroused such an intense social reaction is that in the background many people deeply resent forced relocations, so much so that it provoked profound concern,” social commentator Shi Susi wrote on the Weibo social media platform. “Executing Jia Jinglong is easy, but pacifying this feeling that’s been accumulating for years on end can’t be done overnight. Speed up China’s reform, rule of law and equality,” Su wrote.

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One well-liked comment responding to his post alleged that the real reason Jia was executed was because the son of the village official he killed had become the local Communist Party secretary.

China is widely believed to carry out more executions than any other country, with the number put to death estimated at a few thousand each year, although the exact figure is considered a state secret.

The number of executions has fallen in recent years after a ruling that the Supreme Court review each sentence.

A Chinese court last year commuted the death sentence of a woman who killed her abusive husband.

The case generated a public outcry and the court ruling was seen as a landmark verdict.