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Home>Central Magistracy>Who would receive the Death Penalty or Life Imprisonment?

Who would receive the Death Penalty or Life Imprisonment?

In the early years, the Colonial Government would carry out death penalty on death roll inmates through hanging them by the neck. The first recorded hanging was carried out on 4 November 1844, with the criminal being a Chinese who murdered a European Police Officer. In March 1859, two British sailors were hanged for murdering a Chinese waiter who reported their theft of money from the captain.

In the beginning, hanging was carried out in Kennedy Town, which was then a suburban area. It was conducted in public to serve as deterrence. In 1856, the executions were carried out at the open plaza outside the Magistracy beside Arbuthnot Road, also in public. On 28 May 1879, a public execution was carried out in the courtyard of the Victoria Gaol. Responding to voices of opposition in the society, on 4 May 1894 the last public execution by hanging was held, and subsequent death penalties were carried out in the witness of jailers and reports.

In 1965, the United Kingdom abolished the death penalty; Hong Kong followed suit in the year after. The last inmate to receive the death penalty was named Wong Kai-kee, a Vietnamese. He was sentenced to death by hanging of the neck for robbing and murdering a Chinese security guard in Shum Shui Po. He was hanged on 16 November 1966. The death penalty was suspended afterwards. On 23 April 1993, the Hong Kong Government passed the Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance and formally replaced the death penalty by life-term imprisonment.

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