BEIJING - A Chinese court executed a man on death row without notifying his family and then defended its actions, sparking anger online, local media reported Sunday.
Businessman Zeng Chengjie was executed on Friday after being sentenced in 2011 for fraud and illegal fundraising involving 3.4 billion yuan (S$694 million), the Beijing Times said.
His daughter complained on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog, that the court in Changsha, central China, had not notified the family beforehand.
The court replied via its own weibo account on Saturday, saying "the law does not have a written rule that convicts being executed must see their families".
It generated criticism online with users criticising the "ice cold" response.
The court then apologised in a second post, stressing that its weibo account managers had not studied the law closely enough, the Beijing Times said. It later issued a third post, saying Zeng was given the option to see his
family but declined.
Weibo users dismissed the court's replies - which along with all other posts on its account were later blocked from view - though netizens and media outlets shared images of the earlier statements.
Zeng's daughter said: "Everything they did should be condemned".
The controversy comes as China's leaders have called for a more credible judiciary, even although it is largely beholden to political authorities.
"China has a long, long way to go before it has the rule of law," weibo user Lin Lvshan wrote.
Xu Xin, a law professor, wrote online that the court had "severely damaged public confidence in judicial bodies".
China's new leader Xi Jinping has called in recent months for a fairer and more transparent judiciary that delivers justice for ordinary Chinese.
But China's courts lack independence. Many cases, particularly sensitive ones, are decided beforehand by political authorities, and the country's conviction rate is high.