Wenzhou admits mishandling crash cases

Updated: 2011-07-30 17:52


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WENZHOU - The judicial bureau of Wenzhou in East China's Zhejiang province has apologized for a statement that told lawyers not to "unauthorizedly" handle cases involving last Saturday's deadly bullet train collision.

The judicial authorities apologized to the public for its "lax supervision" over the Wenzhou Lawyers' Association, which allegedly issued the order arbitrarily, according to an apology statement posted on a local official news website on Thursday.

On Tuesday, law firms in the city received an "urgent statement" issued under the names of the Wenzhou Judicial Bureau and the Wenzhou Lawyers' Association.

The statement asked lawyers to "report to the judicial bureau and lawyers' association immediately after the injured passengers and families of the deceased in the accident come for legal help," and said lawyers "shouldn't unauthorizedly respond and handle the cases," because "the accident is a major sensitive issue concerning social stability."

The statement immediately aroused public anger after being exposed by netizens.

In response to the criticism, the judicial bureau accused the lawyers' association of using the bureau's name to issue Tuesday's statement without authorization.

"We didn't know the content of the statement before it was released. It was written by the lawyers' association, which used our name without authorization," said Liu Xianping, director of the bureau's office.

He said the judicial bureau and lawyers' association often issue statements jointly, and this time the association took it for granted and used the bureau's name again.

A spokesman with the Wenzhou Lawyers' Association confirmed that version of events, and said they issued the order because they feared "conflicts would be generated if legal services are not well-provided."

Liu said the judicial bureau has asked the law firms in Wenzhou to accept the cases concerning the train crash in accordance with laws and offer high-quality services.

The train crash on July 23 left 40 people dead and 191 others injured. As of Saturday, 10 of 31 families have agreed to take a compensatory payment of 915,000 yuan ($143,000) per deceased family member.