The Supreme People's Court is expected to issue specific punishments for
corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds, a top judicial official
Current laws do not give detailed stipulations for these three crimes, Jiang
Xingchang, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, said at the fifth
national criminal trial working conference which ended on Wednesday.
According to the Criminal Law, those who embezzle or take bribes over 100,000
yuan (US$12,660) will be sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 10 years to
life. If the case is "particularly serious," the criminals can be sentenced to
death and their property will be confiscated.
Governmental officials that embezzle "huge amounts" of public funds and
refuse to return will be sentenced to terms ranging from 10 years to life.
The Criminal Law does not specify what defines "particularly serious" and
"huge amounts." And no details are given on penalty measurement.
As a result, crimes of the same type are often given different penalties at
various courts and at different times.
Some corrupt officials have not been punished as heavily as they should be,
some people have complained.
For example, over half of corrupt officials sentenced to death by courts
across the country have been give a two-year reprieve, according to a report by
the Procuratorial Daily.
But often this is changed to life imprisonment if the defendant does not
commit any new crimes during the reprieve period. Finally, the criminal will
only need to stay behind bars for 15-20 years before being set free.
Some analysts believe that the high rate of reprieve is a result of loose law
Jiang required courts at various levels to strictly tighten use of the
reprieve and the reduction of sentences when dealing with corruption, bribery
"Criminals with the same offences should receive the same punishments. Rich
and high-ranking officials should not get different treatment," the top judicial
Jiang also emphasized strengthening the recovering of ill-gotten money and