An increased number of death penalty appeals will be heard in open court as part of efforts to improve the regulation of executions, Reuters reported, citing comments made by a legal scholar. Liu Renwen of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said death penalty appeals going to the provincial high court will take place publicly from the second half of this year. He also backed local governments to fight hard to stop the Supreme Court reclaiming the right of final review on death sentences. Following a number of wrongful convictions, including the execution of a butcher for murdering a waitress who was later found alive, the lower courts have been criticized for arbitrary sentencing. Liu estimates the number of executions in China to be about 8,000 a year, with 68 crimes half of which are non-violent offences incurring the death penalty.