A notorious gang leader and drug lord from Myanmar was among four foreigners executed in China Friday, marking the first time Beijing has extradited, tried and put to death foreign nationals.
Naw Kham and three accomplices from Thailand and Laos were given a lethal injection in Yunnan’s provincial capital, Kunming, late Friday afternoon.
The four were found guilty last year and sentenced Wednesday for the October 2011 hijacking of two cargo ships and the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River.
But Beijing’s decision to live broadcast the final moments of the men as they waited in their cells followed by their walk to waiting police cars to the execution facility has drawn criticism across China’s websphere.
Beijing contends that, while Naw Kham masterminded the hijacking of the two Chinese cargo ships, he also colluded with Thai soldiers who may have been responsible for the slaying of the sailors.
Thai authorities are investigating nine of their soldiers alleged to be involved in the incident.
The capture of Naw Kham – who was at the center of the region's bustling drug trade – was a coup for Chinese police and anti-drug ministries, which reportedly spent a year tracking the infamous smuggler.
The search was unprecedented as it marked the first time that Chinese forces were seen actively searching for foreign national criminal suspects outside of China’s borders