February 28, 2013 00:00 By Deutsche Presse Agentur
Beijing - China planned to execute alleged Golden Triangle drug lord Nor Kham and three accomplices after their death sentences were approved by the nation's highest court, state media said on Thursday.
The executions would be carried out on Friday by a court in Kunming, capital of the south-western border province of Yunnan, court officials were quoted as saying.
Thai citizen Hsang Kham, Lao citizen Zha Xika, and Yi Lai, who was stateless, also faced execution on Friday.
The four men were convicted of murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River in October 2011.
The court had arranged for relatives and representatives of the Thai and Lao consulates to meet the men in Kunming before their executions, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Nor Kham and his gang were found guilty of attacking two Chinese cargo ships in collusion with Thai soldiers, while they kidnapped other Chinese sailors and held their ships for ransom earlier in2011, the court said.
At his appeal hearing in December, Nor Kham was quoted as saying he "neither plotted nor ordered the murder" of the sailors in October2011 and only heard about the attack later.
During his trial, Nor Kham accused Thai soldiers of sole responsibility for the attack.
But he later pleaded guilty to the charges, before changing his plea again at the appeal hearing, according to state media reports.
Two other members of Nor Kham's gang, both Myanmar citizens, were given a suspended death sentence and eight years in prison for their involvement in the murder, kidnapping and hijacking.