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Prosecutors crack down on false evidence

2014-10-31 08:42 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

Effort aims to prevent injustice by creating procedures for identifying problems in cases

Prosecuting departments will step up efforts to identify false evidence presented by public security officials to prevent miscarriages of justice, a senior official from the Supreme People's Procuratorate said on Wednesday.

"Prosecutors must insist on correcting false evidence and uncovering miscarriages of justice in appeal cases," said Cao Jianming, prosecutor-general at the SPP, while delivering a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

Figures from the procuratorate show that, since 2013, provincial-level prosecutors refused to issue arrest warrants for 750 suspects or to charge 257 others after being given false evidence.

A typical case occurred in September, when Zhuhai City Intermediate People's Court in Guangdong province withdrew a death sentence it had passed on a defendant, Xu Hui.

Xu had been wrongly convicted of raping and murdering a 19-year-old woman, but was freed, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency.

"Thanks to the prosecutors' insistence on performing their supervisory duties fully, and their discovery that the evidence against me was false, I cleared my name and had a chance to start a new life," Xu said.

The case dated back to 2001, when Xu was convicted of raping the woman in Zhuhai and sentenced to death, with a reprieve of two years, the report said.

He appealed to the Guangdong Provincial High People's Court, but the verdict was upheld. He lodged a second appeal with the same court, but again his appeal failed.

Xu lodged a complaint with the Guangdong Provincial People's Procuratorate and, after a careful review, prosecutors found that the evidence obtained by the Zhuhai police was unreliable. There were conflicts between Xu's confession and the evidence, and the results of DNA tests were unclear, according to Xinhua.

The prosecuting department told the Guangdong Provincial High People's Court to correct the miscarriage of justice due to the lack of solid evidence. The instruction was passed down to the intermediate court, and in September the death sentence was revoked and Xu was released.

Cao said the SPP will standardize arrest and charging procedures and enhance supervision to uncover and correct miscarriages of justice in a timely manner.

In addition, prosecuting departments will establish and improve mechanisms to identify illegal evidence, especially confessions obtained by police officers using torture, he said.

Supervisory mechanisms within prosecuting departments, including the monitoring of case-handling procedures, will be improved. Prosecutors who are found to have broken the law will face criminal charges.

Cheng Lei, deputy director of the legal and judicial reform research center at Renmin University of China, said, "Prosecuting departments should define processes and standards to identify illegal evidence, and strictly adhere to the criminal laws when collecting, reviewing or applying evidence."

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