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Jiang Qing's judges stuck over sentence

Judges of the special court trying Mao Tsetung's widow Jiang Qing and nine codefendants are expected to announce their verdict around Jan. 10. Public sentiment in favor of a death sentence is very strong, and there are reports the court is wrestling with the dilemma of how to pronounce the death sentence without actually executing a person who, after all, is the widow of the founder of the People's Republic of China. Even a suspended death sentence would be too lenient, many Chinese maintain.

One compromise reportedly being discussed in secret is for Jiang Qing to be given the death sentence, but for the execution of the sentence to be delayed while she is interrogated in a host of regional trials of her former subordinates or accomplices. By the time these cases are completed, the anger aroused by the arrogant manner in which she justified her conduct during the so-called Cultural Revolution may have abated -- or so China's present leaders hope.

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