Reviews help ensure justice

Updated: Mar 20, 2024 China Daily Print
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Courts reverse erroneous judgments following appeals by procuratorates

Procuratorates nationwide filed 7,876 protests against criminal judgments deemed erroneous last year to ensure justice and the fairness of the judiciary, the top procuratorate stated in its annual work report.

The Supreme People's Procuratorate's Work Report for 2023, approved by the National People's Congress on March 11, said that 79.9 percent of the protested criminal judgments were changed after review.

In one case mentioned in the report, a man named Chen Cang, along with others, broke into a residence to commit theft in April 1997.A woman sleeping in the house woke up, and fearing detection, Chen repeatedly struck her head and face with a hammer, killing her. He then strangled her son to death and fled the scene with valuables.

In June 2014, when Chen was detained for another theft-related crime, police matched his fingerprints with those extracted from the first crime. Despite initially confessing to the 1997 crime, Chen later recanted multiple times. He was prosecuted in June 2015 and sentenced to death by the Intermediate People's Court of Hengshui, Hebei province, in March 2016. Chen appealed, and in December 2018, the Higher People's Court of Hebei Province acquitted him of all charges.

The Hebei Provincial Procuratorate appealed the ruling.

In April 2021, the Supreme People's Court instructed the Higher People's Court of Shandong Province to retry the case. In January 2024, the Shandong court sentenced Chen to death with a reprieve.

Yang Jianbo, deputy director of the SPP's general office, emphasized that procurators should not only pursue criminals but also protect the innocent.

The changes in the rulings demonstrate that procuratorial organs have upheld the principle of combating crime and safeguarding human rights, impartiality and justice, he said.

The case dates back many years, and the legal procedures involved are complex. However, the procuratorial organs have persisted in supervision for over 10 years. In the end, the guilty have been punished, proving the value of the rule of law and the need for supervision, he said.

Additionally, in 2023, procuratorates supervised the filing or withdrawal of 139,000 cases by investigative agencies, a year-on-year increase of 68.2 percent. For cases that do not constitute a crime or lack sufficient evidence, they refused to arrest 210,000 people and declined to prosecute 54,000 people, representing year-on-year increases of 51.1 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively.

For cases that should have led to arrests or prosecutions but did not, procuratorates added 19,000 arrests and 99,000 prosecutions last year, marking year-on-year increases of 12.8 percent and 66 percent, respectively.

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