Courts correct custody quandary
( 2003-12-01 07:54) (China Daily)
Courts across the country have cleared up 1,967 cases concerning illegally extended custody, which were filed before the end of this July, officials from the Supreme People's Court said yesterday in Beijing.
They announced that a total of 4,060 suspects had been kept in custody beyond the permitted time period.
There are widespread concerns about extended custody around China because the illegal protraction of detention is a major violation of the basic human rights of suspects in criminal cases.
In China, suspects and those accused in criminal cases are usually held in detention facilities until the court makes its final judgment.
The legal period of custody of criminal suspects ranges from 14 days to six-and-a-half months between the arrest and the trial, according to China's Criminal Procedure Law.
However, despite the strict limit provided by criminal procedures on the term of custody and the use of mandatory forces, protracted custody still occurs at times.
Among all the criminal suspects that have been discovered to be detained for excessive periods, the number of suspects held up by the courts ranks highest, according to Chen Zhendong, an official with the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
In July, the Supreme People's Court issued a notice to order all courts to clear up situations involving extended custody by the end of this November.
Supreme Court President Xiao Yang said at a national courts conference in August: "Trials of long-standing cases should all be concluded before this November, especially criminal cases. Suspects in criminal cases who are being held in extended custody and cannot be found guilty should be released.''
In addition to the nation's judicial circles, China's public security and prosecution bodies have also started to increase efforts in fighting against such illegal actions.
The three State departments jointly issued a notice on November 12 to co-ordinate their operation in rectifying and preventing protracted custody.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate announced last week that it had discovered 16 more people being detained beyond the allowed period, after it had exposed and resolved a total of 359 cases of unlawfully extended custody by July 22.
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