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Courts told to ignore illegal evidence

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-22 07:28

New guideline meant to ensure justice and protect human rights of accused

China's top court has told every court nationwide to strictly exclude evidence collected illegally, in an effort to reduce wrongful convictions and protect human rights.

"When we looked back at wrongful cases corrected over the past few years, we found the mistakes were attributable to our undeveloped legal awareness, as well as improper legal procedures while tackling the cases," said Dai Changlin, a member of the trial committee at the Supreme People's Court.

A guideline released on Tuesday ordered courts at all levels to find suspects innocent when evidence is insufficient to prove their guilt, and to not accept evidence that is obtained illegally.

The guideline stipulates that courts should review the legality of evidence before hearing a case and they are not allowed to continue with cases if evidence has been collected in an improper manner.

"For example, evidence won't be accepted if it is obtained by torture," Dai said.

The guideline also asks judges to review interrogation videos and audio that are provided as evidence, adding that they must exclude those that are damaged or edited by investigators or prosecutors.

Dai confirmed some defendants in high-profile wrongful cases, such as Nie Shubin, were tortured during interrogations.

Nie, who was wrongly convicted and executed for rape and murder in North China's Hebei province more than 20 years ago, was exonerated in December.

"We should sentence those who commit real crimes, but for defendants where the evidence cannot prove their guilt, we must free them," Dai said.

The guideline is to uphold justice, as well as to protect human rights, he added.

Wang Ling, a judicial official at the top court's publicity department, said they will disclose examples of whether the guideline is being fully enforced in a timely manner.

Ji Chunwei, a criminal lawyer in Guangdong province, applauded the guideline, describing it as a significant step to reduce wrongful convictions.

Procedures are regarded as a way of achieving justice, "so not handling a case in accordance with procedures will harm justice", he said.

"Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done," he added.

Courts told to ignore illegal evidence

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