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Condemning innocent worse than sparing guilty: senior justice
2013/05/13
 

BEIJING, May 7 (Xinhua) -- A senior Chinese judge has called for efforts to prevent miscarriages of justice, saying it is even preferable to spare guilty people than to hand down wrongful punishment to the innocent.

Shen Deyong, executive vice president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), made the remarks in an article published in the Monday edition of the newspaper People's Court Daily.

A string of miscarriage of justice cases in China have inflicted unprecedented challenges to Chinese courts, and it is imperative now to deal with this situation, the article said.

While wrongs must be corrected to uphold justice, more measures should be taken to avoid similar cases in the future, it said.

The criminal justice system matters to a citizen's reputation, property, liberty and even life. An unjust case may ruin justice in society and set back the authority of the judicial system, the article said.

Shen noted that there are several elements that may lead to an erroneous conviction, including lack of relevant knowledge and capabilities as well as inadequate technological support.

However, in many of miscarriage of justice cases, wrongful acts and corruption, negligence and irresponsible attitudes in judicial agencies, as well as the excessive thirst for a high clearance rate, are among the major causes, the article said.

Moreover, courts are always under great pressure of the possibility of letting off a guilty criminal, Shen noted.

While the possibility of mistakes in criminal investigations and trials may not be completely ruled out, the existing mindset of the "presumption of guilt" instead of the "presumption of innocence" among some law enforcers in China has made such cases more likely to happen, Shen said. ' To better prevent judicial injustice, Shen urged judcial workers to fully understand the harm of wrongful convictions against innocent people.

It may destroy a person, a family, the judicial agencies' image and authority, as well as the public's confidence and belief in the country's justice system, he said.

In his article, Shen also called on the country's judicial workers to better abide by procedural rules, respect the defendant lawyers' role and increase the use of advanced technological methods in handling criminal cases.

Moreover, he underlined the role of public supervision in avoiding unjust court rulings and called on the courts to promote transparency in trials by making relevant information public in a timely manner.

 
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