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Avoiding all judicial mistakes ‘impossible’

By Sun Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-14 1:00:08

A supreme court official Tuesday acknowledged misjudgments within the country's judicial system, calling false convictions "a shame" on judges.

When answering questions regarding China's judicial fairness during an online interview, Shen Deyong, executive vice president of the Supreme People's Court, said he would not ignore misjudgments occurring in criminal, civil and commercial cases.

"A judge should feel ashamed for misjudging a case," said Shen, adding that it is unfair for any litigant to encounter unjust sentences.

However, Shen, also a delegate to the 18th Party congress, defended the general fairness of China's judiciary system.

Among over 12 million cases handled by Chinese courts last year, court sentences were accepted at trials of first instance for 90.6 percent, and nearly 99 percent of sentences handed down at trials of second instance were accepted without further appeals, Shen said.

He added that only 0.14 percent of verdicts were changed in retrials, which indicates that the majority of parties involved in the lawsuits are satisfied with the verdicts.

"These figures are not convincing enough to say that the judicial system is just and that the public is satisfied with the verdicts," Tan Qiugui, a law professor with China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times Tuesday, adding that the response from people involved in cases and the views of the public should be taken into consideration.

Huang Liyi, a man from Guangdong Province, was found innocent after spending 11 years in prison for fraud. He was given 820,000 yuan ($131,420) in compensation.

During the interview, Shen also citied the Zhao Zuohai case to illustrate institutional defects. Zhao, a farmer from Henan Province, was declared not guilty in 2010 after spending eight years in prison when the man that Zhao was believed to have killed returned to his village safe and sound.

Shen said it is impossible to completely avoid misjudgments as seen from both the Chinese and foreign judicial systems but called for the public to have confidence in the country's judiciary system.

Besides, Shen stated that an effective management system has been set up to ensure both the quality and efficiency of the courts' verdicts. Judges who violate the law will be given harsh punishments and those who make wrongful convictions will be held accountable, he noted.

He urged courts at all levels to respect all of the litigants' rights and try to avoid bringing more harm to them. "Without a notion to respect and protect people's human rights, it's difficult to achieve judicial fairness," he concluded.

Xinhua contributed to this story

Posted in: Politics