U.S. citizen sentenced to death in China for murder loses appeal

·2 min read

BEIJING (Reuters) - A U.S. citizen sentenced to death by a Chinese court for "intentional homicide" of his former girlfriend lost his appeal on Thursday, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Following a trial held in "open session" the High People's Court of Eastern China's Zhejiang Province rejected the appeal of the defendant, U.S. citizen Shadeed Abdulmateen, and upheld the original verdict of a court in Ningbo this April, CCTV reported.

The initial ruling by the lower court held that after a disagreement over the pair's break-up in June 2019 the defendant arranged to meet and talk with the victim, a woman surnamed Chen, at a bus stop in Ningbo before killing her.

"The High People's Court of Zhejiang Province..found that the facts found by the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court were clear, the evidence was true and sufficient, the conviction was accurate, the sentence was appropriate and the trial procedure was lawful, so it made the above ruling," CCTV reported.

The court has forwarded the case to the Supreme People's Court for approval, a necessary final step in such cases before the sentence is carried out.

It is extremely rare for the country's highest court to question such verdicts and ask lower courts to revisit such cases, even though this can be done.

Amnesty International said in a report earlier this year that it believes China carries out thousands of executions each year but the exact number is a state secret.

The defendant had legal representation appointed by the court and officials from the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai were in court to witness Thursday's verdict, CCTV said.

When asked for comment a U.S. Embassy spokesperson told Reuters that they were "aware of a court decision related to a U.S. citizen."

"We take seriously our responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad and are monitoring the situation," the spokesperson said via email. "Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment."

(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard; Editing by Toby Chopra)