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Courts: Economic cases get priority
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-17 00:25

China's top judge Xiao Yang said yesterday in Beijing that people's courts across the country will take additional sound measures to create a better legal environment for the country's economic growth.

Xiao, president of the Supreme People's Court, said the courts will focus on fighting serious economic crimes in such sectors as finance, taxation,and the securities and futures markets.

He made his remarks at the three-day national conference on the work of the people's courts, which opened yesterday in Beijing. Presidents of courts at provincial level attended the meeting.

Illegal fund-raising, production and sales of fake or inferior-quality commodities and smuggling should be included on the list of priorities, Xiao said.

He said additional attention must be paid to cases involving violations of intellectual property rights (IPR) such as patents, trademarks and copyrights.

Those who violate and abuse such rights should be punished seriously, Xiao added.

Despite the government's persevering efforts on the IPR protection, the number of related cases is on the rise year-on-year.

Statistics from Ministry of Public Security (MPS) indicate the annual growth rate of IPR-related criminal cases was up 33 per cent and the sums involved increased 29 per cent each year between 1998 and 2001.

Government officials who embezzle State-owned assets, take bribes, abuse their power or neglect their duties must be given serious sanctions, Xiao said.

The nation's rapid economic growth is coupled with an increasing number of economic crimes.

By May of this year, public security departments across the country had broken a total of 277,000 economic criminal cases involving 262,000 criminal suspects, saving an economic loss of 67 billion yuan (US$8.1 billion) since 2000, according to MPS's statistics.

Xiao urged judges from courts at various levels to emphasize the protection of human rights in judicial field and safeguard people's legal interests.

"While cracking down upon crimes, judicial departments must prevent violations of human rights such as extended custody," he said.

Despite the small number of cases involving judicial injustice, they have nonetheless contaminated the images of judges, bringing about bad social influences, Xiao said.

While improving justice and efficiency, judicial departments are also pushing for reforms in the field.

From May next year, a people's juror system will be implemented in the courts across the country. According to the system, jurors are selected from common citizens and they are allowed to have a say in the trial and ruling of criminal cases.

Describing the system as an important result of the reform of the nation's judicial system, Xiao said it will help promote democracy and justice.

On Wednesday, the Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Justice jointly issued a decision to strengthen the selection, training and examination of people's jurors.

According to the decision, a people's juror must be trained before they are placed on duty and their tenure will be five years.

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