The Supreme People's Court and local authorities in Shanxi Province, north China, have blocked attempts by a local court to try a deputy of the local people's congress in Houma City.
Under China's Constitution and law, deputies of the people's congress, or the parliament, at any level, cannot be arrested or brought to court on criminal charges unless they have been deprived of their legislative position.
However, Jiao Qijun, a deputy of Houma's municipal people's congress, was arrested on charges of graft by the local procuratorate in August 2001 without the approval of local people's congress standing committee. In November 2002, the city's legislature invited Jiao to attend the annual meeting, which indicated that Jiao retained his legislative seat.
On Jun. 10 this year, however, Jiao's counsel was informed that the Intermediate People's Court of Houma City had accepted the case and the People's Court of Hongdong County had been authorized to handle it. The first hearing was to be held on Jun. 13.
The counsel immediately reported it to the Provincial Department of Justice and the Supreme People's Court. On Jun. 12, the Supreme People's Court ordered the provincial authorities to stop the trial of Jiao, because it would violate the constitution.
(Xinhua News Agency July 1, 2003)