Appeal to China's Supreme Court: 'He killed my mother, but don't execute my father'

Her father killed her mother with a hammer and was sentenced to death, but now 10-year-old Jin Jin wants China's highest court to spare his life so she will not become an orphan.

It's a case that has divided public opinion in China, which executes more people than any other country. There is a huge groundswell of support for the death sentence as a deterrent against crime but the plight of little Jin Jin has left people feeling uncomfortable about the broader impact of the ultimate sanction.

Her father, Wang Junbao, a 36-year-old village doctor from central Henan province, killed his 31-year-old wife, Feng Li, in March 2007 when a quarrel over a faulty air conditioner turned violent. Wang subsequently wrote his will and tried to commit suicide, but failed and was arrested. He was sentenced to death for voluntary manslaughter in December 2007.

Jin Jin, whose real name is Wang Senjin, travelled from Henan to Beijing and has appealed to China's Supreme Court for a reprieve. "I have lost my mother and I cannot afford to lose my father. I don't want to become an orphan," she said.

An online survey by the website showed nearly 64 per cent of the 23,781 people polled were sympathetic to the girl's plight and hoped the death sentence would be commuted to life. Some 31 per cent disagreed and said that those who kill people should pay with their own lives.

The number of executions is a state secret, but the Dui Hua Foundation, a group based in San Francisco that works to free Chinese political prisoners, reckons there were between 5,000 and 6,000 executions in China in 2007 and 8,000 the previous year.

Zhao Xiaolu, a lawyer, told China Daily: "If he doesn't receive capital punishment, there will be even more harm done to society. We cannot sacrifice justice and equality for mercy."

After her mother's death and her father's incarceration, Jin Jin was passed around from relative to relative before she ended up in a special home in Xinxiang in Henan for the children of prisoners. She appealed to the director of the home to be allowed to contact a lawyer, Shen Teng, and they travelled to Beijing to appeal.

"Uncle and Auntie Judges, how do you do?" she wrote in a letter. "Two years ago, my father and mother had a fight and my father accidentally killed my mother.

"I do not want to be an orphan. I beg you not to kill my father!"

The lawyer is convinced that Wang is remorseful for his actions. "The murderer has repeatedly expressed his love for his dead wife and regrets his stupid impulse leading to the murder," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Shen is hoping to have the sentence changed to execution with a two-year reprieve, which generally means the death sentence is commuted.