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Courts told to heighten security after knife attack

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-20 07:16

Law courts nationwide have been ordered to boost security to protect legal professionals and other employees after a judge was attacked in Jiangsu province.

Zhou Long, a judge in Shuyang county, was run down by a car and then stabbed multiple times as he walked to work on Friday. He was taken to a hospital and is out of danger, according to local authorities.

Police have detained a man identified as Hu Xiaogan, a disgruntled defendant in a case handled by Zhou who had failed to comply with the judge's ruling, according to the county court.

In response to the attack, the Supreme People's Court and the China Judges Association released a notice on Saturday calling for greater protection for judicial employees.

A list of proposed improvements include installing court buildings with quick-response alarms and rooms fitted with recording devices where judges can safely meet with litigants.

In addition, desk phones used by judges and judicial assistants should have recording devices, so that any threats can be recorded and used as evidence in court, the notice said.

Judicial authorities at all levels were also told to set up associations to handle complaints from judges and provide help to those who suffer physically or economically as a result of their work.

"Maintaining the dignity of judges is in line with the rule of law," the Supreme People's Court said, adding that those who threaten or harm judges or other judicial employees face penalties under a guideline issued on Feb 7.

The guideline states that a litigant can be ordered to leave the courtroom, fined or detained if he or she disturbs the court process.

The assault on Zhou was the latest in a series of attacks on judges. On Jan 26, Fu Mingsheng, a retired judge in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, was stabbed to death in his home by a man whose divorce he had handled in 1994.

Last year, Ma Caiyun, a 38-year-old judge in Beijing, was shot in the stomach and face at home by an attacker who said he had been unhappy with the division of property in his divorce.

Guo Jie, a judge specializing in divorce cases in Fujian province, said security for legal professionals is insufficient. "I do feel unsafe," she said. "I don't know who can protect me when I'm off work. And what about my family?"

Xu Songling, a law professor at South China University of Technology, agreed that security should be improved, saying, "Security checks must be increased before people are allowed to enter a court building."

However, he also suggested judges better protect themselves by clearly explaining verdicts and rulings to plaintiffs and defendants, to avoid potential conflicts.

"It's important that people involved in a case know that a ruling has been made based on evidence, not depending on who the judge is," Xu added.

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