Judicial reform in Henan gets public support

Updated: 2011-12-12 17:43


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BEIJING - Judicial reforms in Central China's Henan province, many of which were initiated in response to scandals, have received support from the public, according to a report in the Monday edition of the People's Daily newspaper.

According to the report, the rate of public satisfaction with the province's courts rose from 84.5 percent in 2006 to 93.6 percent last year.

Moreover, the number of petitions to central governmental and judicial departments in Beijing complaining about the province's judicial system saw an 83-percent drop on a year-on-year basis, the report said.

The province's judicial system previously came under fire for a scandal in which an innocent man was jailed for more than 10 years.

In May 2010, Zhao Zuohai was acquitted after serving 11 years in prison for murder when the supposed murder victim, Zhao Zhenshang, was found alive and well.

Four days after Zhao Zuohai's release, he received a sum of 650,000 yuan ($96,000 at the exchange of time) in compensation and from the local court.

Zhang Liyong, chief judge of the Henan Higher People's Court, also visited Zhao Zuohai's home and apologized for the wrongful conviction.

The judicial system should not shirk its responsibilities but should confront the scandal head-on, the newspaper quoted Zhang as saying.

After the case, local courts strengthened their evidence review processes, acquitting 73 detained suspects over a lack of evidence.

In a 2009 mine explosion that killed 76 miners in the province, a local court handed down death sentences with two-year reprieves for two mine managers, the harshest sentence ever handed down for such a case.

According to precedent, mine managers are typically sentenced to a maximum of seven years in prison on liability-related charges. However, after considering the serious consequences of the case and the actions of the managers, the court decided to charge the managers with "endangering public safety."

An investigation revealed that the managers had intentionally ordered the mine's ventilation facilities and gas sensors to be disabled, leading to the blast.

In another scandal, another local court handed down a similar sentence to a man who was convicted of producing and selling large amounts of clenbuterol, a carcinogenic chemical added to pig feed to produce leaner pork.

The local judicial system is also making efforts to expand its open trial and public hearing system.

Local courts have published 99.37 percent of their decisions online in recent years, and live broadcasts of many of their hearings can also be found on the Internet.

Being open-minded about public supervision is the best way to win the people's support and confidence, Zhang said.