BEIJING -- A Supreme People's Court spokesman on Thursday reiterated China's
intentions to exert strict controls over the application of the death penalty
ahead of January 1, 2007, the date the Supreme People's Court takes back the
power of death penalty review.
consistent principle is to maintain the death penalty but use it strictly," said
"China's courts will adhere to this principle, hand out death penalty with
great caution and try to minimize its use to ensure capital punishment is only
given to a handful of criminals who commit extremely notorious crimes," the
He said the Supreme People's Court (SPC) would further reduce the use of
death penalty for several crimes for which capital punishment was commonly used
in the past.
He said the defendant's rights must be fully safeguarded and any testimony
extracted through illegal means must be declared invalid.
The SPC held that the method of handing down a death penalty with a reprieve
not only severely punishes crimes and serves as a major deterrent but also
reduces the number of executions. This method shall be used more in future, the
More leniency will be shown in death with penalty-related trials, according
to the spokesman. "Those who plead guilty and provide important information or
those who are accessories in a criminal case will, in general, be given more
lenient punishments, " said the spokesman.
The death penalty will be administered very cautiously in criminal cases
involving disputes between families and neighbors, according to the SPC.
"But for extremely notorious criminal cases with overwhelming evidence, the
death penalty with immediate execution will be passed down without hesitation,"
said the spokesman.
For having adequate personnel to review death penalty cases, the Supreme
People's Court has added two vice president posts, two full-time judicial
committee member posts and three criminal tribunals.
Currently, the SPC has five criminal tribunals. The second criminal tribunal
will be responsible for reviewing the death penalty for economic crimes and the
other four tribunals will review the death penalties given for all other kinds
of crimes, said Jiang Xingchang, vice president of the SPC.
The SPC has transferred qualified judges from local courts, experienced
lawyers and law professors to the SPC to carry out the death penalty reviews.