Friday, January 03, 2003

Dateline: China

Man executed for poisoning kids...

Beijing - A kindergarten owner who mixed rat poison into salt at a rival school's kitchen was executed on Friday in southern China, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

About 70 children were hospitalized after eating contaminated porridge.

It was the second execution announced in the past three months in a series of Chinese poisoning cases blamed on business disputes.

After initially suppressing details of the cases, authorities have publicized the penalties in hopes of reassuring an anxious public that they are taking resolute action.

Huang Hu (29) was executed in Zhanjiang, a city in Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, Xinhua said. He was convicted in mid-December after a swift prosecution.

Huang owned a failing kindergarten in the nearby city of Wuchuang and blamed a nearby school, Xinhua said. He crept into its kitchen on November 24 and put poison in salt that was used to make corn porridge.

The report didn't say how Huang was put to death.

China used to carry out most executions with a bullet to the back of the head or neck, but the use of lethal injection is spreading.

In September, at least 38 people were killed in the eastern city of Nanjing when a snack shop owner sprinkled rat poison on food from a rival shop. The poisoner was executed the following month.