Chinese courts meted out guilty verdicts to six ministerial public servants in 2003, Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court, said Wednesday in Beijing.
During his work report of the Supreme People's Court to the ongoing Second session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), he said 73 prefecture-level officials and 458 county-level officials were put on trials and convicted.
"The Supreme People's Court supports and respects the independent and fair trial of cases by local courts at various levels last year, and enhanced supervision and guidance of their work," said the president.
He noted that local courts also handed down verdicts to a total of 5.687905 million cases of various kinds last year, involving 768.5 billion yuan (93.7 billion US dollars), up 0.78 percent and 8.33 percent year-on-year, respectively.
Verdicts were passed last year on a total of 735,535 criminal cases by local courts, giving guilty verdicts to 933,967 defendants, up 1.21 percent and 1.51 percent, respectively, according to the report.
Of the criminal cases, 238,949 ones pertained to arson, blast, murder, kidnapping, robbery, mafia-like organized crimes and other offenses, and 308,183 accused were convicted, he said.
Chinese courts also concluded over 37,580 cases involving violation of the rights of minors and women with 40,820 people given guilty verdicts, said Xiao.
A total of 19,197 people were sentenced last year as Chinese courts concluded 14,775 cases concerning production and marketing of fake and shoddy goods, smuggling and financial fraud, said the president.
On human rights protection involved in the judicial field, Chinese courts gave not-guilty verdicts to 2,467 defendants charged with criminal offences, to 2,368 defendants charged by public prosecutors according to the report.
Xiao said the Supreme People's Court passed verdicts on 300 cases of death penalty examination and retrials of criminal cases, up 16.28 percent over the previous year.
The Supreme People's Court also ruled on 372 civil cases of appeals and cases of business disputes concerning foreign firms or citizens with 13.48 billion yuan involved, he said.
Courts at local levels delivered verdicts on 114,896 lawsuits against government departments and institutions, involving urban housing resettlement, expropriation of rural farmland and social security, and ruled on 3,124 State compensation cases, a rise of 18.24 percent over the same period of last year.
Courts across China rescinded rulings on 5,805 verdicts, which had been proven to inaccurate in evidence, not strict with trial proceedings, or unfair in their verdicts.
Courts to continue "striking hard" on crimes
Chinese courts in 2004 will adhere to the principle of "striking hard", or a relentless crackdown, in handling grave criminal offenses to safeguard national security, social stability and the safety of the people'slives and property, the Chief Justice said.
"The courts shall help create a social environment of long-termstability for the building of a well-off society in an all-round way," said Xiao.
In an apparent response to the proposed Constitutional amendments, which are expected to be approved at the end of the 10-day NPC session, Xiao pledged in his report that the courts would "respect and safeguard human rights" and "protect the citizens' right to private property ownership and right of inheritance according to law" in trial practices in 2004.
The draft Constitutional amendments, presented to the national legislature on Monday, include clauses like "The State respects and safeguards human rights" and "Legally-obtained private property rights of the citizens shall not be violated."
Special attention should be paid to cases involving disputes caused by the demolition of urban residential housing and expropriation of rural farmland, impairment of workers' interests in the retooling of enterprises, defaulted payment of wages, and pollution of the environment, Xiao noted.
The courts shall also play an active role in safeguarding the country's financial security, protecting the growth of non-public economic sectors, maintaining a sound market economic order and ensuring fair market competitions, he added.
The top judge also pledged intensified efforts to accelerate the reform of courts and further improve judicial justice in an effort to "raise judicial efficiency" and "maintain judicial authority".
In 2004, China will strive to strengthen its judicial ranks, and courts at all levels will carry out activities to foster their"fairness image" with focus placed on the "building of clean courts" and "expel any judges who abuse their judicial power or ask for and take bribes," with severe punishment meted out indiscriminatingly to those judges who violate the laws, said Xiao.
Facts & figures in work report of Supreme People's Court
Following are facts and figures in a report delivered Wednesday to China's national legislature by Xiao Yang on the judicial work in 2003.
-- The Supreme People' Court concluded a total of 300 cases concerning the retrial of crimes and review of cases in which death penalties had peen passed by lower courts, up 16.28 percent from the previous year. And of these cases, the original verdict was upheld in 182 cases.
-- The Supreme People's Court concluded the investigation of 372 appeals on civil and foreign-related affairs, which were submitted due to plaintiffs' refusal to accept the verdicts of local higher people's courts, which involved approximately 13.48 billion yuan. The Supreme People's Court also granted retrials to 59 cases pertaining to civil and foreign-related affairs.
-- Courts at all levels concluded the investigation of 5,687,905 cases, involving a total of 768.5 billion yuan last year, up 0.78 percent and 8.33 percent respectively from the previous year.
-- Courts at all levels concluded the investigation of 735,535 criminal cases and gave sentences to 933,967 criminals in 2003, a rise of 1.21 percent and 1.51 percent respectively from the previous year.
-- Courts at all levels tried and concluded 14,775 cases relating to producing and marketing fake and shoddy goods, smuggling, financial fraud and other cases to undermine the marketeconomic order. About 19,197 criminals involved were sentenced and1.5 billion yuan in economic loss was retrieved.
-- Courts at all levels concluded the investigation of 22,986 work-related crimes, giving sentences to 458 county-level officials or section chiefs, 73 prefecture-level officials and sixprovincial or ministerial-level officials.
-- Courts at all levels tried and concluded 114,896 administrative lawsuits, most of which were the cases relevant to forcible demolition of houses in cities and towns, requisition of land in rural areas and social security. In addition, 3,124 state compensation lawsuits were concluded last year, an increase of 18.24 percent from the previous year.
-- Courts at all levels re-examined 1.12 million criminal, civil and administrative cases and redressed 5,805 wrong cases.
-- Courts at all levels offered judicial assistance in 228,000 cases, reducing and exempting about 1.057 billion yuan of lawsuit expenses for litigants.