10 July 2007 – Zheng Xiaoyu

Zheng XiaoyuA tale of bribery, intrigue and corruption surrounds our next condemned man today, this time in the depths of China.

Zheng Xiaoyu should have been a respected man – he headed up the State Food and Drug Administration for the People’s Republic of China and was therefore in a position of power and trust.

Money making

Far from dereliction of duty, instead Xiaoyu was guilty of far worse. He was embroiled in dodgy dealings, capitalising on his authority to amass money – £425,400 to be precise, according to the BBC. In return, companies were able to put out adulterated food and drugs without being subject to the stringent checks, and some of which would later cause people to die.

Indeed it was one such bodged antibiotic that caused 10 people to die, which sparked suspicion, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Setting an example

The State had him up on charges of corruption and once he was found guilty, the sentence was hard. Why? It was harsh mainly, because it was a message to the rest of the world that China was bent on quashing underhand activity especially within watchdogs tasked with upholding standards.

The BBC tracked down a spokeswoman for the State Food and Drug Administration, Yan Jiangying, who deplored the situation: ‘this kind of serious case of law breaking by a small minority of corrupt elements, as far as the entire system is concerned, really made us feel ashamed’.

Grave sentence

As a result of this shame, Xiaoyu was made an example of – he was given the death penalty. The disgraced director fought an appeal as a result of the grave sentence, based on his compliance and his willingness to cooperate.

However, children had died from supposed milk powder with no nutritional benefit, while dogs and cats in America had died from adulterated pet food. So he had to go.

China hasn’t appeared to have gone public with the method of execution, but ‘Times Online’ reckons it was probably via a lethal injection, when he was aged 62.

Also on this day

10 July 1919 – Henry Perry (aka Beckett)

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