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Importance of fair trials
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An unfair trial is worse than several crimes rolled into one, warns an article in the Beijing Times. Following is an excerpt:

The closed-door trial of a child-rape scandal in Xishui, Guizhou province, started on April 8 at a local court. Strict legal measures should have been taken to protect the rights of both the alleged rape victims and defendants, but there were clear loopholes in the trial.

First, the seven alleged victims of the rape scandal are all underage and we should protect their privacy in the trial according to law. That is why the local court adopted a closed-door trial. But the closed-door trial should only allow related members and persons involved in the case to be present, banning reporters and unrelated members of the public from attending. Obviously, the allowance of four journalists to attend the trial by the local court violated the legal stipulations and endangered the privacy of the victims.

Second, the head of the local prosecutory, judicial and public security committee instructed that the court penalize the defendants as strictly as possible. On the surface, this remark showed the attitude of local leaders to severely crack down on the child rapists; but in fact, it points to intervention in judicial fairness and to the fair trial of defendants being affected.

Third, defense lawyers designated by the court refused to show up in the trial because they "didn't want to defend this type of people". They openly breached their legal obligations of offering judicial help for defendants, even for what was perceived as "cold-hearted criminals".

(China Daily April 13, 2009)

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