NOTE: This story contains disturbing details. Please read at your own discretion.
China has executed a couple found guilty of throwing two young toddlers out of a 15th-storey window in a brutal case that sent shockwaves through the nation.
On Wednesday morning, Zhang Bo and Ye Chengchen were put to death. The Intermediate People’s Court of Chongqing arranged for the pair to have a final meeting with their close relatives before the execution, state news agency Xinhua reports.
Zhang was the father of the two toddlers who were killed — a two-year-old daughter and one-year-old son he shared with his ex-wife Chen Moumou. Ye and Zhang had an extramarital affair, the courts found, and Zhang left his wife to be with her. Multiple levels of China’s judiciary upheld that the pair killed the children because they were seen as an obstacle to their burgeoning relationship.
In its review of the case, the Supreme People’s Court found that Zhang concealed the fact that he was married with children when he and Ye began the affair. When Ye found out about Zhang’s family, she continued to date him.
Eventually, in February 2020, Zhang and Chen reached a divorce settlement that gave custody of the pair’s two-year-old daughter to Chen, while the one-year-old son would live with Zhang until he turned six, according to Xinhua. After turning six, the boy would be cared for by his mother with Zhang agreeing to pay child support.
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Although the divorce settlement was accepted by both parties, Ye allegedly believed that the two children would be an obstacle to her and Zhang getting married, and would be a burden on their future life together.
Zhang and Ye conspired to kill the children and decided that they would make the murders look like accidental falls. Ye allegedly urged Zhang to commit the murders multiple times and gave him a deadline to carry out the killings.
Because Zhang’s daughter was in the custody of his ex-wife, he had to convince Chen to send their daughter to his home under false pretences.
On the afternoon of Nov. 2, 2020, the children were playing on a bay windowsill in Zhang’s apartment when their father grabbed their legs and lifted them out of the 15th floor window.
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Zhang’s daughter died from a head injury while his one-year-old son died of respiratory and circulatory failure from multiple organ failures, Xinhua reports.
The courts determined that both Zhang and Ye played major roles in the intentional homicide and should be punished equally, adding that their motives were “extremely despicable” and “particularly cruel.”
The Intermediate People’s Court of Chongqing found the pair guilty and sentenced them to death on Dec. 28, 2021. The couple appealed the ruling to the Chongqing Higher People’s Court, who upheld the original ruling on May 11, 2023, China Daily reports.
The death sentence ruling was submitted to the Supreme People’s Court for approval, as is mandatory for all death penalties.
It’s unclear how the execution was carried out, but the BBC reports that China typically carries out executions via lethal injection or firing squad.
News of the execution went viral on Chinese social media site Weibo, where many commenters expressed their disdain for the couple.
“You deserve it!” one person wrote.
“Today is such a good day,” another wrote.
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