Court or­ders re­tri­als in three prop­erty cases

High-pro­file de­fen­dants will have an­other chance to clear names

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CUI JIA cui­jia@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Supreme Peo­ple’s Court an­nounced on Thurs­day the re­trial of three ma­jor prop­erty rights-re­lated cases, it said in a state­ment.

The high-pro­file crim­i­nal cases of Gu Chu­jun, for­mer chair­man of Guang­dong Kelon Elec­tri­cal Hold­ings Co; and Zhang Wen­zhong, for­mer chair­man of Wumei Hold­ings, par­ent of re­tail chain Wu­mart Stores, will be heard by the top court and its cir­cuit court.

Gu, 58, worked his way up from an en­try-level tech­ni­cian to a ty­coon with sev­eral large re­frig­er­a­tion and ap­pli­ance com­pa­nies. He was ar­rested in 2005. A fi­nal court rul­ing by the Guang­dong High Peo­ple’s Court in 2009 sen­tenced Gu to 10 years in prison for fal­si­fy­ing and with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion and em­bez­zle­ment. He also was fined 6.8 mil­lion yuan ($1.03 mil­lion).

In Septem­ber 2012, after serv­ing his term in prison, Gu filed a pe­ti­tion to the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court deny­ing all charges and also re­ported wrong­do­ings of four of­fi­cials. The top court said in a state­ment on Thurs­day that it has re­viewed Gu’s case and be­lieves it is el­i­gi­ble for a re­trial ac­cord­ing to China’s Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure Law.

In a sep­a­rate case, Zhang, 55, was fined and sen­tenced to 12 years in prison for fraud, em­bez­zle­ment and a briberyre­lated crime in a fi­nal rul­ing by the He­bei High Peo­ple’s Court in 2009. Zhang first pe­ti­tioned that court but was re­jected in De­cem­ber 2015. He filed a pe­ti­tion to the top court in Oc­to­ber 2016, which, after re­view­ing the case, de­cided to grant a re­trial.

In a third case, which in­volves an eq­uity trans­fer dis­pute, the Jiangsu High Peo­ple’s Court has de­cided to over­turn pre­vi­ous court rul­ings on the ba­sis of un­clear facts and has in­structed the Nan­jing In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court to retry the case.

The Supreme Peo­ple’s Court said in the state­ment re­leased on Thurs­day that courts around China need to strictly dis­tin­guish be­tween eco­nomic dis­putes and eco­nomic crimes, clar­i­fy­ing the bound­ary be­tween fi­nanc­ing and il­le­gal fundrais­ing as well as bet­ter defin­ing what kinds of be­hav­iors from pri­vate en­ter­prises can be cat­e­go­rized as em­bez­zle­ment of state as­sets.

The re­tri­als have shown that the peo­ple’s courts around China will fur­ther pro­tect peo­ple’s prop­erty right and cre­ate a healthy en­vi­ron­ment for en­trepreneurs so they can play a more im­por­tant role in so­ci­ety, ac­cord­ing to an ed­i­to­rial be­ing pub­lished in Peo­ple’s Daily on Fri­day.

Pro­tect­ing the pub­lic’s prop­erty rights is the foun­da­tion of achiev­ing a sus­tain­able and healthy so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. It also can help boost peo­ple’s con­fi­dence and drive them to be more in­no­va­tive in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, the ed­i­to­rial said.

The Supreme Peo­ple’s Court also said that any op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­ity of pri­vate en­ter­prises should not be treated as an of­fense or crime un­less it is clearly pro­hib­ited by laws and reg­u­la­tions. The pre­sump­tion of guilt prin­ci­ple should be banned in such in­stances.

Fur­ther­more, Party and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are strictly banned from in­ter­fer­ing with in­di­vid­ual cases. The de­ci­sion to or­der re­tri­als shows the court’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to im­ple­ment a guide­line is­sued by the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China and the State Coun­cil in Novem­ber 2016 on bet­ter pro­tec­tion of prop­erty rights in an ef­fort to shore up so­cial con­fi­dence and pro­mote so­cial jus­tice, the top court said in the state­ment.

Le­gal pro­ce­dures should be ex­panded con­cern­ing seal­ing, freez­ing, auc­tion­ing or other dis­posal meth­ods of prop­erty be­long­ing to en­ter­prises or in­di­vid­u­als sus­pected of crimes, it stressed.

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