Man executed for poisoning kids

BEIJING: A kindergarten owner who sickened 70 children by mixing rat poison into salt at a rival school's kitchen has been executed in southern China, the official Xinhua News Agency said. 

The execution on Friday was the second announced in the past three months in a series of poisoning cases blamed on business disputes. After initially suppressing details of the cases, authorities publicised the penalties to reassure 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 Nov 24 and put poison in salt used to make corn porridge. 

Students and teachers who ate the tainted food suffered spasms and vomiting, according to earlier reports. Seventy children and two teachers were hospitalised, but all were treated and released. 

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. 

Death sentences in China are automatically appealed but rarely overturned. The brief Xinhua report on Huang's execution didn't give details of the legal proceedings. 

China is in the midst of a marathon anti-crime crackdown that has brought a wave of heightened penalties including death sentences for even non-violent offences such as tax evasion. 

Other recent attacks have been blamed on people seeking revenge or hoping to cripple business competitors by poisoning food in restaurants and school kitchens. 

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. 

Authorities initially refused to release details of the case and still haven't disclosed a complete death toll. 

Both the Zhanjiang and Nanjing cases involved a powerful rat poison sold under the name “Dushuqiang.” It is banned in China but still widely available. – AFP  

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