Vienna, 28 November 2008 Press release

Plassnik: "Shocked over the execution of the death sentence against WO Weihan"

Foreign Minister: Our sincere condolences to his family

Vienna, 28 November 2008 - "I am deeply shocked over the cold-hearted and inhuman approach taken by the Chinese judiciary in the case of WO Weihan.The disregard of all appeals by the family of WO Weihan, by Austria, the European Union, and many others is depressing", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik in a reaction to the execution of the father of two Austrian citizens, who had been sentenced to death for alleged espionage."Our sincere condolences to his family, who were not even given the opportunity to say farewell", stressed the Foreign Minister.

Foreign Minister Plassnik only recently turned to the Chinese Government once again in a public plea for a humanitarian solution.Together with the family, the French EU Presidency, and the EU partners, all means available were exhausted to prevent an execution of 60-year old Weihan."The fact that the execution was abruptly carried out on the day of the human rights dialogue between the EU and China emphasizes the ruthlessness and coldness with which this case was handled", said the Foreign Minister.From the point of view of the entire EU, this approach must be considered a virtually intentional affront.

During the proceedings, and after the announcement of the death sentence, the Austrian Embassy in Beijing was already engaged in this case and had followed all developments very closely.Apart from Foreign Minister Plassnik, Federal President Heinz Fischer and National Council President Barbara Prammer, as well as the presidents of the three Austrian high courts became personally involved in the efforts to prevent the execution.In addition, the EU Council Presidency issued two démarches to the Chinese authorities upon Austria's initiative.The European Parliament and EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner also joined the calls for a prevention of the death sentence.

Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Press Department
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Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213