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—Reuters (File Photo)
—Reuters (File Photo)

BEIJING: Four convicted murderers sentenced to death for killing 13 sailors were shown on live television Friday being taken from a Chinese prison to their place of execution.

Naw Kham, a Burmese drug gang leader, and three of his accomplices were condemned to die by lethal injection for killing the Chinese sailors on the Mekong in October 2011.

It was unclear whether state broadcaster CCTV planned to show the actual moment the men were put to death.

Naw Kham, dressed in a beige cardigan and grey trousers, smiling slightly as he was marched, handcuffed, towards the reception of the prison in Kunming in the southern province of Yunnan.

But he licked his lips nervously and grimaced as a restraining rope was tied around his arms and upper body, before he emerged, ankles shackled, into bright sunlight and the lenses of multiple cameramen, to be put into a van and taken to his execution.

His fellow inmates, identified by state media as Hsang Kham from Thailand, Yi Lai, stateless, and Zha Xika, Laotian, followed a few minutes later.

The four, along with two other accused, had pleaded guilty to intentional homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping and hijacking at their trial in Kunming last year, state news agency Xinhua said.

The gang was broken up in early 2012 in a joint operation conducted by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, Xinhua said, “after the brutal murders of Chinese sailors triggered calls to rein in rampant crime in the border region”.

After the execution, the court will hand over their remains, wills and personal belongings to their relatives or relevant consulates, the agency added.