Supreme court specifies terror hoax definitions, punishment

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-9-29 21:24:14

The Supreme People's Court of China on Sunday issued explanations on what should be classed as false terror threats, specifying harsh punishment for such crimes following several recent cases that caused public panic.

The six-item explanations clearly define the range of false terror information, including threats of explosion, biological and radioactive threats, major disasters and epidemic situations that can seriously threaten public security and may cause social panic or public security crises.

Those involved in fabricating and deliberately spreading false terrorist threats will receive harsh punishments ranging from detention to a jail term of up to five years, or more for those whose actions have severe consequences, said Lyu Guanglun, a senior judge of the Supreme People's Court, at a press conference.

Heavier punishment will be given in some circumstances, including cases resulting in flights landing at alternate airports or returning, interruption to the operations of trains, ships and other large passenger transportation vehicles, direct economic losses over 200,000 yuan (32,700 US dollars), serious disruption to daily life in townships or subdistricts; and fabrication and deliberate spread of false terrorist threats.

The explanations, which will be put into effect on Monday, came after a series of false terror threats, especially bomb threats targeting airlines.

From May 15 to 18, there were six cases of fabricated bomb threats in China, causing plane diversions, emergency landings and delays to 22 flights in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, said Sun Jungong, spokesman for the Supreme People's Court.

China's Criminal Law has no specific articles regulating terror hoaxes, meaning people making false terror threats are usually punished under the crime of disrupting social order, according to Chen Bin, a lawyer with the Beijing-based Guandao Law Firm.

The Criminal Law has previously failed to deter people from making false terror threats because their penalties are usually mitigated due to lack of specific law enforcement standards and criminals' good attitude in court, Chen said.

According to the explanations, once flights have been delayed or security checks have to be carried out again due to false terrorist threats, those involved will face criminal charges. Any hoaxer causing direct economic losses above 500,000 yuan (81,700 US dollars) to airliners will receive jail terms of more than five years.

People who make and spread terror threats to cause disorder or evacuation in airports, stations, ports, shopping malls and theaters will also face criminal charges.

Experts believe the enforcement of the judicial explanation will be conducive to maintaining social order during the upcoming National Day holiday from Oct. 1 to 7, when millions of Chinese will travel across the country through public transportation.

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