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Prosecutor get tough on COVID-related crimes

By CAO YIN | | Updated: 2020-03-27 20:21

Chinese prosecutors have strengthened efforts against the novel coronavirus pneumonia with timely prosecutions and disclosure of influential cases, according to China's top procuratorate.

As of Thursday, prosecutors across the country had taken 1,919 people to court for possible epidemic-related crimes, such as disrupting the prevention of infectious diseases, producing or selling fake preventive supplies, illegal consumption of wild animals and price gouging, a statement of the Supreme People's Procuratorate said.

On Thursday, the procuratorate said on its website that 30 people are being criminally detained for the illegal business, adding that 11 of them have been charged with crimes and are waiting for trials.

On March 20, for example, a suspect surnamed Wen was detained in Dongguan, Guangdong province, after he was found to have excessively raised the price of materials used for making masks during the epidemic, according to the procuratorate's statement.

Earlier, another suspect surnamed Cao from Tancheng county, Shandong province, who allegedly sold masks for almost 100 times their original price online, was also detained, it said.

"Using the outbreak as a chance to benefit from improperly raising prices of urgent goods and storing preventive supplies has seriously disturbed the market order. To stabilize market order during such a special period, we'll maintain the harsh crackdown against offenses like price gouging," the procuratorate added in the statement.

Last week, considering the rising risk of imported cases of the novel coronavirus in recent weeks, Zhang Jun, prosecutor-general of the procuratorate, has urged all prosecutors not to relax in their epidemic control work, attach more importance to offenses related to imported infections and initiate prosecutions in a timely manner.

Early this month, prosecutors nationwide were also ordered to play a bigger role in the supervision of public interest litigation against illegal consumption of wild animals to better protect wildlife and the ecology, as the epidemic is believed to have originated in wild animals.

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