Three new criminal tribunals under China's Supreme People's Court, established to review certain death sentence cases of provincial courts, has begun to work on April 1.
They will firstly begin to review the cases and give their opinions. "They do not yet formally have the right to review and make final decisions on death sentence cases," said Chen Guangzhong, a consultant to the Supreme People's Court.
He declined to say when the three tribunals will formally regain this power.
Staff for the three tribunals, who are undergoing a month of training in Beijing, are selected from various regional courts through a series of rigorous examination processes.
"They are all very brilliant judges," said a teacher in the training class.
The supreme court currently reviews and makes final decisions on some kinds of death penalty cases, including in economic crime, but gives the power on some kinds of death penalty cases to provincial courts.
It announced a decision last October to take back the power from provincial courts in the near future.
The move appears to be a response to many Chinese media reports in recent years, which exposed wrongful death penalty sentences, sparking public debate.
Putting together brilliant judges to review death sentences is believed to be effective in preventing wrong convictions to better protect human rights.
(Xinhua News Agency April 3, 2006)