Chief judge pledges to fight judicial corruption

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-24 08:29

Chief judge Xiao Yang has pledged to keep up the fight against judicial corruption after the nation's court system rooted out 292 judges last year because of unethical deeds.

Greater efforts would be made this year to build a "clean court system", Xiao, president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said in an interview with China Daily.

"We must never relax our vigilance on corruption," he said, after he reported to the National People's Congress in early March that, last year, 292 judges were subjected to power abuse investigations, with 109 of them prosecuted.

The number of judges charged with corruption was 378 in 2005 and 461 in 2004.

However, Xiao, who has been SFC president since 1998, said he had ongoing fears about the "grave situation" of judicial corruption.

The 69-year-old chief judge said he "lost sleep" because he was so deeply disturbed by reports of corruption, especially those involving court officials.

Corruption involving judges, though in small number, damaged the image of the country's court system and undermined the credibility of the justice system. "We will continue to be serious in handling the official corruption cases," he said.

In 2006, two high-level group corruption cases were reported by the Chinese court system.

The first involved three top judges from Fuyang Intermediate People's Court in East China's Anhui Province, who were arrested for taking bribes since 2005. Two of the former judges were sentenced to 9 and 10 years respectively, with the other one still on trial.

The second case involved five senior judges from Shenzhen's Intermediate People's Court in South China. Three of them were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 3.5 to 11 years, with the other two still on trial.

Corrupt judges have disrupted the working of the court system and sometimes resulted in wrong verdicts, Xiao said.

A "firewall" against corruption will be consolidated, he said, with the apex court on its way to make four important sets of rules on fee charges, court discipline, judge discipline, and court supervision. The first two sets of rules will be implemented this year, with the other two released for public comment.

Of the new rules to be released, he said, court officials are barred from using their influence to seek price discounts in any transactions, to occupy properties under other people's ownership, to collect or to spend money through gambling, to have personal investment managers, or to seek benefits for their family members.

Also, beginning last year, the court introduced an "anti-corruption deposit" system. If a 22-year-old court staff member deposits 500 yuan ($63) every year and does not do anything illegal, he will get 300,000 yuan ($37,600) upon retirement - including his premium and reward.

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