SCMP: “One of China’s most senior judges has called for an end to miscarriages of justice by the nation’s courts after two cases of wrongful convictions have highlighted inadequacies in its legal system.
“If more of these wrongful criminal convictions appear, they will become an unprecedented challenge to the People’s Courts,” Shen Deyong, the executive vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court, wrote in the People’s Court Daily on Monday.
The paper is the court’s official mouthpiece.
“It’s preferable to release someone wrongfully, than convict someone wrongfully,” he said. “If a true criminal is released, heaven will not collapse, but if an unlucky citizen is wrongfully convicted, heaven will fall.”
Criminal trials in China had a conviction rate of 99.9 per cent in 2009, according to the latest China Law Yearbook. In recent months, several murder cases have raised public ire against the judicial system.
Zhejiang’s provincial supreme court on March 26 overturned a decade-old death sentence with two-year reprieve and a 15-year prison sentence for two men convicted on murder charges for killing a woman in Hangzhou.
Caixin in April reported on the ordeal of a farmer wrongfully sentenced to death with reprieve in 2008 in Zhecheng, Henan province. Also in Zhecheng, convicted murderer Zhao Zuohai gained prominence in 2010, when his purported victim returned to the village and Zhao’s death sentence had to be overturned.
Last year, Henan started to hold judges responsible for their rulings even after retirement to reduce the number of miscarriages of justice.”