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China executes couple for murder of toddlers that shocked the nation

Hong Kong CNN —

China has executed a couple for throwing two toddlers out of a high-rise apartment window, in a case that provoked nationwide outrage.

The man and his girlfriend were found guilty of killing the children from his first marriage by staging an accidental fall from a residential tower in the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, so that they could start a new family.

The father, Zhang Bo, began an affair with Ye Chengchen and initially hid the fact that he was married with children, but Ye found out and Zhang divorced his wife, according to China’s supreme court.

Ye saw Zhang’s two children as an “obstacle” to them getting married and a “burden on their future life together,” the court heard. She repeatedly urged Zhang to kill the toddlers and threatened to break up with him if he didn’t.

After conspiring with Ye, in November 2020, Zhang threw his two-year-old daughter and one-year-old son from his 15th floor apartment when they were playing next to the bedroom window, killing them both, according to the court.

Zhang and Ye were sentenced to death in December 2021.

The Supreme People’s Court said the couple’s crime “seriously challenged the legal and moral bottom line,” calling their criminal motive “extremely despicable” and means “particularly cruel,” state news agency Xinhua reported.

News of their execution drew hundreds of millions of views on Chinese social media site Weibo, where it became a top trending topic.

“They deserved the punishment,” said a top comment with 27,000 likes.

“How very satisfying!” said another with 31,000 likes.

A study published in 2020 shows 68% of Chinese citizens are in favor of death penalty.

But John Zhuang Liu, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong who