China's top judge and president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) Xiao Yang reaffirmed in Beijing Thursday that the SPC will withdraw the death sentence review power in 2006.
A SPC source disclosed that new criminal courts have been established for handling death sentence reviews. The SPC is selecting qualified judges nationwide to take charge of the work.
China's 1979 edition of the Criminal Procedural Law specified that all death sentences with immediate execution must be reviewed by the SPC. However, in a bid to strike hard at crime, the people's court organizational law, promulgated in 1983, made it possible for some death sentences with immediate execution to be reviewed by the provincial higher people's court.
Since then, facts show that allowing provincial higher people's courts to review death sentences results in inconsistency and injustice.
When addressing a national conference attended by heads of courts at the provincial level, Xiao also urged courts to open court sessions when hearing death sentence cases in second instance, to speed up trial supervision reform, to unify judicial adjudication yardsticks and to further improve the juror system and judicial democracy.
(Xinhua News Agency January 6, 2006)