China's chief justice Xiao Yang on Monday blasted judicial corruption and pledged to severely punish crooked judges in the hope of restoring public confidence in the rule of law.
In a report submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Xiao told the country's top lawmakers that despite progress in judicial reform, misconduct by judges and unfair court rulings remain.
"Some judges take bribes, abuse their judicial power and indulge in loose lifestyles. Some crooked court leaders promote their allies, causing chronic corruption in local judicial circles," said Xiao.
"Corruption has left an extremely bad impression with the
general public and tarnished the reputation of the courts," said
Xiao, President of Supreme People's Court.
On last Wednesday, Zhang Zimin, a former judge in east China's Anhui Province, was tried for bribery involving more than 800,000 yuan (101, 265 US dollars) and for being unable to account for an income of 580,000 yuan.
The scandal also brought down his predecessor Liu Jiayi, two of Zhang's former deputies -- Zhu Ya and Wang Jianmin -- and four subordinate judges in the Fuyang court.
The chief justice's report did not provide details on the number of judges under investigation. The most recent statistics available show that 461 judges were probed and punished for graft in 2004.
Xiao's report also shows that more than 800,000 court orders nationwide have not been implemented, prompting public dissatisfaction in the justice system.
Addressing the nearly 200 legislators, including Wu Bangguo, China's top legislator, Xiao said he will try his best to reverse current judicial vices in an ongoing three-year reform, focusing on building an effective mechanism for strict law enforcement.
"All violators will be severely punished, and in particular those who break the criminal code," Xiao said.
He said lower courts across the country will also be pushed to establish an accountability system for implementing court orders.
Early in the year, the Supreme People's Court sent three research groups to the lower courts to collect and analyze the failed implementation of court orders. Researchers are drawing up measures to improve the implementation of court orders, Xiao said.
In China's legal system, court officials are responsible for implementing court orders. These orders, especially compensation in economic disputes, are frequently delayed due to the negligence of court officials negligence or because they were bribed not to carry out the order.
Xiao told legislators that parliamentary supervision over the courts will be more effective. Court officials have been ordered to report to NPC members.
A nine-chapter code of conduct governing judges has been complied and circulated in courts, he said. The code was based on lessons learned from more than 200 crooked judges who have been punished in recent years, the chief justice said.
Also at Monday's legislative session, Prosecutor-General Jia Chunwang of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) reported that 91 prosecutors had been held punished for violating law enforcement procedure while carrying out judicial investigations since May 2005.
A total of 275 prosecutors have been removed from office and received training for serious faults with law enforcement procedures since 2003, Jia said.
This March, judges and prosecutors were given low approval ratings ofr their work in reports filed at the NPC annual session, as judicial bodies have drawn a lot public criticism for corruption.