Chinese Top Justice, Prosecutor Deliver Work Reports

Chinese courts and prosecuting organs at various levels have taken a series of measures to ensure that the innocent be free from wronged punishment while the corruption was clamped down in two systems, according to work reports of top judge Xiao Yang and top procurator Jia Chunwang on Saturday to the National People's Congress.

"Chinese courts at various levels strictly followed the principle of meting out penalty to the guilty in accordance with the law, and setting the innocent free in time, and pronounced 2, 162 criminal defendants innocent in year 2005," Xiao, Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), told the ongoing session of the 10th National People's Congress  (NPC).

In a bid to safeguard the litigation rights of every defendant in line with law, a total of 117,407 defendants who met the requirements of obtaining legal aid were helped by appointed lawyers in litigation, Xiao said.

In 2005 alone, Chinese courts suspended, reduced and exempted a total of 1.265 billion yuan worth of litigation fees, up 16.24 percent over the previous year, for 266,732 litigants who were in economic difficulties, he said.

Xiao also reported that local courts across China received a total number of 3,995,244 letters, visits and calls of complaints in 2005, down by 5.33 percent year-on-year, and 435,547 of them were against misconducts of judges.

"The number of complaints against courts and court staff that had been rising for years began to drop for the first time last year," Xiao said.

Apart from the tangible efforts of all courts, the consistent anti-corruption drive within the judiciary, the number of law-breaking judges also decreased in 2005.

Last year, 378 judges were found to abuse power for personal interests and 66 were given criminal penalty according to law, 18 percent and 44.07 percent less than the previous year.

Jia Chunwang, top procurator and the President of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), said in his work report that "in a bid to enhance the judicial protection to human rights, the SPP launched special campaigns to crack down on human rights infringement cases committed by government officials."

A total of 599 cases involving illegal detention, abusing criminal suspects and obstructing people's electoral right were investigated by prosecutors during the year 2005, he said.

To counter the wide-spread practices of extracting confession through torture among police bodies, the prosecuting organs intensified supervision in the aspect by redressing 598 cases involving extracting confession through torture or obtaining evidence through illegal means, and investigated in 110 cases concerning forced confession, Jia said.

"The prosecuting organs also enhanced supervision on illegally prolonged custody. Thanks to the joint efforts made by the prosecuting organs and other judicial organs, the number of unlawfully extended custody cases had dropped to 271 in 2005 from 4,947 in 2004," Jia said.

Chinese prosecutors also have focused the investigation of job-related crimes on high-level officials, "profitable" government sections, monopoly industries and state- owned companies in an effort to weed out corruption, Jia said.

A total of 41,449 government employees were probed by prosecutors in 2005 for corruption and dereliction of duty, of which 30,205 were brought to court.

In 2005, Chinese prosecutors investigated 2,799 government officials above the county level, including 196 at prefecture level and eight at provincial and ministerial level. In addition, 9,117 executives of state-owned companies were probed for misappropriating or embezzling company assets. 703 government officials at large suspected of job-related crimes were seized, 14.5 percent more than the previous year, with 7.4 billion yuan of illicit money confiscated, 62.9 percent more than 2004.

(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2006)

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