Specially equipped “execution trucks” should be used nationwide by courts to execute criminals immediately after sentencing, the country’s highest court has recommended, according to a report by Agence France-Presse.

The Beijing News daily said the high court of China's Liaoning province had recently bought such a vehicle for 400,000 yuan (48,300 dollars). "Many large cities have permanent execution grounds, but in smaller cities it is difficult to carry out death sentences, so this is why we have these mobile execution units,” a government official was quoted.

The magazine Beijing Today in March reported that the special trucks were equipped to carry out executions by lethal injection, a change from China's traditional method of firing a bullet into the back of the head. Seventeen intermediate courts in Yunnan province in the southwest had already purchased execution trucks. The trucks are produced in Nanjing, by Iveco, Italy-based Fiat's trucking arm, then equipped for executions.

According to Amnesty International China executed more than 1,000 people last year but other groups suggested the actual number is much higher, perhaps as many as 3,000.