China Knife Attack
In this image made from video, Yang Jia, 28, convicted of killing six Shanghai policemen, appears in a Shanghai court during his appeal in October. Prominent artists and intellectuals protested on his behalf.
updated 11/25/2008 11:59:17 PM ET 2008-11-26T04:59:17

A Chinese man who was convicted of killing six policemen in a stabbing spree but drew public sympathy with allegations that he lashed out to avenge torture in police custody was executed Wednesday.

Yang Jia was executed in Shanghai after China's highest court upheld his death sentence, despite late appeals both inside and outside China for the government to re-examine his case.

"Yang is dead, and justice is dead too," Beijing lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, who represents Yang's mother, said in a telephone interview.

Zhai Jian, Yang's lawyer in Shanghai, refused to comment when reached by phone Wednesday, saying "I really want to get myself out of this case."

Yang, a 28-year-old unemployed Beijing man, forced his way into a Shanghai police station July 1 and stabbed six officers to death. He was convicted in all six killings.

Popular support for Yang swelled after local media reported that he told police the attack was revenge for the torture he allegedly suffered previously while being questioned by police about a stolen bicycle.

Yang tried to sue the police for psychological damage, but the claim was rejected.

China's Supreme People's Court informed Yang's family Tuesday that a review of his case was complete and that the death sentence would be upheld, Liu said by phone Tuesday night.

The court made its decision Friday, Liu said.

During his trial, crowds of Yang supporters demonstrated outside the court and a group of prominent outspoken artists and intellectuals signed an online petition demanding the government investigate Yang's claims of abuse. A second, overseas-based petition asking for Yang's freedom started circulating this month.

Even state-run media have asked what could have made a reportedly mild-mannered jobless man snap.

Yang lost his final court appeal in October, but all death sentences are subject to review by the country's highest court — a policy that began last year in an attempt to reduce China's number of executions, the highest in the world.

Observers have also expressed outrage over the detention of Yang's mother, Wang Jinmei, shortly after her son's arrest.

Wang was held for four months in a police-run mental hospital before being taken Sunday to visit her son in prison and then escorted to her home in Beijing, Liu said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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