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Video Evidence Allowed for First Time in Shanghai Court

Video records were used as evidence for the first time in the city in settling a civil case involving 70,000 yuan (US$8,464) between a client and a bank at Pudong New Area People's Court.

According to China's current law, such records can hardly be used as evidence in court. But on December 30 last year, the Supreme People's Court issued the Regulation on Evidence in Civil Lawsuits which said video and sound could be used as long as it did not infringe on the interests and rights of others.

The regulation will become valid on April 1.

"Although the new regulation has yet to come into effect, the use of the video was a bold attempt when considering the specialty of the case," said Fang Jun, spokesman for the court. "The record was the only convincing evidence in the case."

Zhang Hongliang, a native of Central China's Henan Province, alleged that he opened an account of 70,000 yuan (US$8,464) on April 11 at Pudong Branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

When he went to withdraw the money in June, the bank turned down his request, saying the amount had been cancelled on April 11 evening.

The bank said Zhang's son went to deposit 470,000 yuan (US$56,832) on April 11. However, the son filled in two deposit sheets - one for 470,000 yuan (US$56,832) and the other for 70,000 yuan (US$8,464) in his own name and the father's name respectively.

The assistant did not detect the mistake when handling the two accounts, the bank claimed.

The bank detected the problem later in the day. After watching the videotape of that day the bank cancelled the amount. It then tried to explain to Zhang.

"To prove the authenticity of the record, we invited related judicial departments for an expert testimony," Fang said. "Experts found that the videotape was not cut and fabricated."

The video clearly showed that the amount that assistant received was 27 bundles (each bundle has 100 pieces of banknote) of 100-yuan note, 39 bundles of 50-yuan notes and small change.

"Since it is lawful to install monitoring equipment in banks, and the record was also proved to be true, so the court rejected Zhang's request for the money," the court spokesman added.

(China Daily February 27, 2002)

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