Prosecutors boost court supervision
Improvements to legal system designed to help prevent miscarriages of justice
Prosecuting departments will boost supervision of the courts and public security organs to prevent miscarriages of justice once reforms of internal institutions are complete, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said on Thursday.
“With judicial reforms, we will tighten oversight of police and judges to avoid misjudgments, and enable the public to enjoy fairness and justice in every case,” Zhang Jun, procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, said at a news conference.
“Any wrongly judged case not only harms the suspects — the defendants and their families — but also seriously damages the credibility of the judicial authorities,” he said.
Data released by the SPP show that in the past five years the number of complaints about court rulings in criminal cases has been increasing by 20 to 30 percent annually.
Last year, national prosecuting departments accepted 12,930 appeals of criminal cases in which court verdicts were not complied with.
Among them, prosecutors directly lodged protests in 155 cases in accordance with supervisory proce- dures and suggested the courts rehear another 550 cases. After retrial, most of the cases included new sentences by the courts.
A typical case occurred in June, when a 68-year-old from Jiangxi province was declared innocent in a retrial after serving 19 years in prison.
In October 1998, two children in Suichuan county in Jiangxi died after eating poisoned candy they picked up around their home. A man named Li was identified as the suspect, and a year later was convicted of intentional homicide and sentenced to death with a reprieve of two years by Ji’an Intermediate People’s Court.
In 2000, his appeal was rejected by the Jiangxi High People’s Court, which upheld the original ruling.
Li and his lawyer continued to appeal to the higher court, based on flaws in the evidence and the fact that torture was used.
In 2011, after a review, the Supreme People’s Court ordered the court in Jiangxi to rehear the case, but it upheld the original sentencing. Li’s family appealed to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, which then suggested the SPC rehear the case again.
In July 2017, the top court ordered another rehearing, and in June Li was set free by the Jiangxi court because of lack of evidence and unclear facts.
Zhang said the SPP established 10 prosecuting departments to handle criminal, civil, administrative and public interest litigation, as well as duty-related crimes and cases involving minors, effectively improving supervision, arrest procedures and prosecutorial functions.
“After integrating the departments, we will have adjusted to the new requirements of the work and will highlight professionalism and unification of standards,” he said.
Zhang said the SPP will prioritize the creation of a long-term mechanism to prevent miscarriages of justice.
According to the SPP, prosecuting departments have carried out a pilot program that encourages police to consult with prosecutors in complex criminal cases.
In addition, they have taken measures to protect the rights of suspects, defendants and their lawyers, it said.
“Justice is the lifeline of the rule of law,” Zhang said. “We will carefully review all complaints. Once any sign of misjudgment is discovered, we will launch further investigations.”