China executes farmer who killed official with nail gun

The murder had garnered sympathy among some Chinese angry with haughty officialdom, and two state-run newspapers published calls for the farmer to be spared.

By: AP | Beijing | Published:November 15, 2016 11:01 am
Jia Jingyuan, sister of Jia Jinglong, speaks to journalists at a restaurant in Beigaoying village on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang in north China's Hebei province, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Two years after the leaders of his village razed his home to make way for new development, Jia killed the local party secretary with a nail gun. But days after China's highest court gave the go-ahead for his execution, Jia has inspired protests and calls for leniency from those who say it exemplifies the stark powerlessness of ordinary Chinese faced against government officials. Disputes over land seizures are one of the most major sources of unrest in China. (AP Photo/Nomaan Merchant) File Photo: Jia Jingyuan, sister of Jia Jinglong, speaks to journalists at a restaurant in Beigaoying village on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang in north China’s Hebei province,  Oct. 26, 2016. (Source: AP Photo/Nomaan Merchant, file)

A Chinese farmer who murdered a local official with a modified nail gun after his house was torn down was executed Tuesday, in a case that had prompted a rare debate about government abuse of power. Jia Jinglong was put to death in the northern city of Shijiazhuang after a final visit with family members, the official Xinhua News Agency said. That followed the high court’s rejection of his final appeal last month.

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The February 2015 murder had garnered sympathy among some Chinese angry with haughty officialdom, and two state-run newspapers published calls for Jia to be spared. The China Daily editorialized that “Jia would probably not have acted as he did if his loss had been properly taken care of.”

Jia had opposed his home’s 2013 demolition to make way for a new development and felt he wasn’t adequately compensated. His planned marriage was then called off and, bitter and depressed, he began plotting the killing of the leading Communist Party official in his village, He Jianhua. On Feb. 19 last year, Jia approached the 55-year-old at an official gathering and shot him in the back of the head with a single nail.

Killing was “cruel in the extreme and the effect on society was extremely negative,” Xinhua quoted the Supreme People’s Court saying in its ruling issued last month. Land seizures and government corruption are major sources of discontent in China, where the legal system remains weak and ordinary citizens have few channels to seek redress.

Local governments are heavily reliant on land sales for revenue, resulting in the frequent use of strong-arm tactics in housing demolitions. Officials sometimes collude with real estate developers to pocket generous kickbacks for themselves, giving them more incentive to force residents from their homes.