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Six Ministerial Officials Punished for Corruption in 2003

Six former ministerial-level officials were sentenced on charges of job-related crimes last year, China's chief justice Xiao Yang said Wednesday, pledging intensified efforts to continue cracking down on corrupt officials according to law.


The six former high-ranking officials were former governor of Yunnan Province Li Jiating, former vice chairman of the Shandong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Pan Guangtian, former president of the Liaoning Provincial Higher People's Court Tian Fengqi, former deputy governor of Hebei Province Cong Fukui, former deputy governor of Zhejiang Province Wang Zhongli, and former governor of the China Construction Bank Wang Xuebing.


The penalties on them range from death sentence with a reprieve, life imprisonment, to 12 and 15 years behind bars, according to previous reports.


They were among of a group of 458 government workers sentenced on the same charges, said Xiao, president of the Supreme People's Court.


The court handled a total of 22,986 cases involving government workers' job-related crimes last year, he said in his report on the Supreme Court's work at the annual session of the National People's Congress, the Chinese version of parliament.


The fight against corruption was intensified this year. In the latest case last month, former deputy governor of Anhui Province Wang Huaizhong was executed for accepting more than five million yuan of bribery and another 4.8 million yuan of assets that he could not offer legal claim.


Within the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), six former ministerial-level officials were also punished by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. What awaits them is punishment according to law.


Last year, said Xiao, Chinese courts at all levels concluded investigation into 5,687,905 cases which involved a sum of 768.5 billion yuan, up 0.78 percent and 8.33 percent, respectively, from the previous year.


Of the total, 735,535 criminal cases were handled and 933,967 criminals were sentenced, a rise of 1.21 percent and 1.51 percent respectively.


Xiao said the courts in 2004 will adhere to the principle of "striking hard" or a relentless crackdown, in handling grave criminal offenses to safeguard national security, social stability and the safety of the people's lives and property.


"The courts shall help create a social environment of long-term stability for the building of a well-off society in an all-round way," said Xiao.


In an apparent response to the proposed Constitutional amendments, which are expected to be approved at the end of the 10-day NPC session, Xiao pledged in his report that the courts would "respect and safeguard human rights" and "protect the citizens' right to private property ownership and right of inheritance according to law" in trial practices in 2004.


The draft Constitutional amendments, presented to the national legislature on Monday, include clauses like "The State respects and safeguards human rights" and "Legally-obtained private property rights of the citizens shall not be violated."


Special attention should be paid to cases involving disputes caused by the demolition of urban residential housing and expropriation of rural farmland, impairment of workers' interests in the retooling of enterprises, defaulted payment of wages, and pollution of the environment, Xiao noted.


The courts shall also play an active role in safeguarding the country's financial security, protecting the growth of non-public economic sectors, maintaining a sound market economic order and ensuring fair market competitions, he added.


The top judge also pledged intensified efforts to accelerate the reform of courts and further improve judicial justice in an effort to "raise judicial efficiency" and "maintain judicial authority".


In 2004, China will strive to strengthen its judicial ranks, and courts at all levels will carry out activities to foster their "fairness image" with focus placed on the "building of clean courts" and "expel any judges who abuse their judicial power or ask for and take bribes," with severe punishment meted out indiscriminatingly to those judges who violate the laws, said Xiao.


Facts & figures: 


-- The Supreme People' Court concluded a total of 300 cases concerning the retrial of crimes and review of cases in which death penalties had peen passed by lower courts, up 16.28 percent from the previous year. And of these cases, the original verdict was upheld in 182 cases.


-- The Supreme People's Court concluded the investigation of 372 appeals on civil and foreign-related affairs, which were submitted due to plaintiffs' refusal to accept the verdicts of local higher people's courts, which involved approximately 13.48 billion yuan. The Supreme People's Court also granted retrials to 59 cases pertaining to civil and foreign-related affairs.


-- Courts at all levels concluded the investigation of 5,687,905 cases, involving a total of 768.5 billion yuan last year, up 0.78 percent and 8.33 percent respectively from the previous year.


-- Courts at all levels concluded the investigation of 735,535 criminal cases and gave sentences to 933,967 criminals in 2003, a rise of 1.21 percent and 1.51 percent respectively from the previous year.


-- Courts at all levels tried and concluded 14,775 cases relating to producing and marketing fake and shoddy goods, smuggling, financial fraud and other cases to undermine the market economic order. About 19,197 criminals involved were sentenced and1.5 billion yuan in economic loss was retrieved.


-- Courts at all levels concluded the investigation of 22,986 work-related crimes, giving sentences to 458 county-level officials or section chiefs, 73 prefecture-level officials and six provincial or ministerial-level officials.


-- Courts at all levels tried and concluded 114,896 administrative lawsuits, most of which were the cases relevant to forcible demolition of houses in cities and towns, requisition of land in rural areas and social security. In addition, 3,124 state compensation lawsuits were concluded last year, an increase of 18.24 percent from the previous year.


-- Courts at all levels re-examined 1.12 million criminal, civil and administrative cases and redressed 5,805 wrong cases.


-- Courts at all levels offered judicial assistance in 228,000 cases, reducing and exempting about 1.057 billion yuan of lawsuit expenses for litigants.


(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2004)

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