03/14/2007, 00.00
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War on corruption far from being won

Supreme People's Court chief tells National People’s Congress about the war’s shortcomings, calls for greater respect for the law but is silent about the number of death sentences.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The government’s war on corruption has so far failed to yield any marked improvements in the justice system, especially in terms of economic crimes, this according to the country’s top judicial and prosecutorial authorities, Procurator-General Jia Chunwang and Supreme People's Court President Xiao Yang, who spoke to the National People's Congress (NPC).

Whilst courts handled 23,733 official corruption cases last year, about the same as in the previous two years, a record nine ministerial-level officials were convicted, according to reports by the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate. Still Procurator-General Jia and Supreme People's Court President Xiao admitted the figures were no cause for celebration.

“Judicial injustice and law enforcement problems, about which the public have complained the most, have not been effectively scrutinised and addressed,” Mr Jia told NPC delegates.

The court's statistics represent only a fraction of those investigated and charged by the procuratorate.

Prosecutors filed more than 33,000 corruption cases last year, including many regarding disgraced former Shanghai party Chief Chen Liangyu and former Beijing vice-mayor Liu Zhihua.

The only positive result in Beijing's efforts was tracking down 1,670 corrupt officials last year, up from the previous year.

But neither top judicial official said anything about capital punishment figures.

All Supreme People's Court President Xiao said was that court officials, especially at local level, must strictly adhere to the top court's calls to impose the death sentence with greater caution.

In all, 153,724 people nationwide were sentenced to at least five years in prison last year, with an unspecified number given life sentences or the death penalty. The figure in 2001 was 131,869.

China holds the record in death penalties with 90 per cent of the world’s total. In 2005 according to official estimates, some 4,000 people were sentenced to death and 1,770 were executed. However, in the same year a NPC delegate said that some 10,000 executions were taking place per annum. Human rights activists have, for their part, denounced that the real number is around 20,000.

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