Corruption behind accidents deserve harsher penalties: authority

(Xinhua) Updated : 2015-12-16

Corruption that leads to accidents should be subject to harsher penalties, according to a new judicial interpretation on endangering production safety.

The judicial interpretation, released Tuesday by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, specified criteria for conviction and scenarios where harsher or lighter punishments should apply.

If state employees illegally invest in or hold stocks in enterprises which endanger production safety, or if corruption or bribe-taking are found directly linked with safety accidents, they should be given harsh penalties, it said.h They may also be subject to punishment for embezzlement or taking bribes, according to specific convictions.

Many devastating accidents have been related to official corruption or dereliction of duty, said the SPC's Shen Liang. Therefore, apart from punishing those directly responsible for accidents, judicial organs should give no less harsh punishments to any corrupt offenders involved.

Other cases where harsher penalties may apply include operation without viable safety permits or evading or blocking safety inspections, the interpretation said.

It also clarified the criteria for conviction and punishment for the first time, saying any accident involving one death or three severe injuries and above, or a direct economic loss worth 1 million yuan (154,799 U.S. dollars) and above, can be regarded as crime of endangering production safety. Moreover, the judicial interpretation "hidden stock holders," often state employees or enterprise managers who hold stock in other people's names, will also be held accountable.

People who are responsible for accidents can be convicted of intentional homicide or intentional injury, if they obstruct rescue efforts, hide or abandon victims.

The SPC explained the background for the interpretation, saying production still faces safety challenges with accidents resulting in many deaths and injuries. An explosion in chemical warehouse in Tianjin on Aug. 12 caused heavy casualties, destruction of houses, huge economic losses and grave social impact.

According to official statistics, from 2012 to 2014, courts at all levels tried 5,707 cases of endangering production safety.