Chinese baby-killing car thief executed: media

BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese authorities on Friday executed a man who killed an infant he found in a car he had stolen, domestic media said, a murder that stirred widespread public outrage.

Zhou Xijun stole a sports utility vehicle in the northeastern province of Jilin in March, then strangled the two-month-old boy who had been on the back seat before leaving him in the snow, reports at the time said.

"Zhou Xijun met with family members and then was executed in accordance with the law," the People's Daily, the newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, reported on its website.

The child's parents had left him alone in the car briefly with the engine running.

Zhou, 48 at the time of the incident, turned himself in a day after police and the public launched extensive searches for him and the baby.

A court in Jilin's capital Changchun sentenced him to death in May, and a higher court rejected his appeal two months later.

The Supreme Court then approved the execution, which took place in Changchun, the People's Daily website said.

China does not publicise its total executions per year but the figure is believed to be the world's highest.

The US-based Dui Hua Foundation estimates there were 3,000 executions last year, a 75 percent drop from 12,000 in 2002.

Chinese leaders pledged after a key meeting last week to reduce the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty.