Frenchman sentenced to death in China on drugs charge

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A Chinese court has sentenced a French national and his Chinese accomplice to death on drugs manufacturing and trafficking charges, French consular officials and state media said Monday.

Chan Thao Phoumy, who was born in Laos but now has French citizenship, was handed the death penalty on Saturday by a court in the southern city of Guangzhou, officials at the French consulate in the city told AFP.

The Frenchman had been sentenced to life in prison in 2007 in connection with a crystal meth ring operating in Guangdong province, on the border with Hong Kong, and the central province of Henan, the China Daily reported.

But he faced a new trial after "additional crimes were uncovered" while he was in prison, resulting in the death penalty, the official newspaper said, without specifying the new crimes.

His Chinese accomplice, Xie Weiming, was also sentenced to death, the report said. Two others were given death sentences with a two-year reprieve, which are often commuted to life sentences in China.

Drugs laws are extremely strict in China, and those convicted of smuggling, selling, transporting or producing more than 50 grams of heroin or methamphetamine face the death penalty, according to state media.

Several foreigners have been executed in China in recent months on drugs charges, sparking concern and protests from their home countries.

In December, China executed Briton Akmal Shaikh, a 53-year-old father of three convicted of drug smuggling. Supporters said he was mentally ill and London repeatedly urged Beijing to grant clemency.

Four Japanese drug smugglers were executed in northeastern China in April.

A court in southern China sentenced a South African woman to death for drugs offences in April, Xinhua said.

© 2010 AFP

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