Supreme People's Court must take blame for failing to do good job, says justice

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 March, 1999, 12:00am

The President of the Supreme People's Court vowed yesterday to clean up corruption in the Judiciary and crack down hard on law-breakers to ensure social stability.

'The People's Court has made progress in the past year,' Xiao Yang told 2,737 National People's Congress (NPC) delegates at the Great Hall of the People.

'But we must be somberly aware that our work is still far from meeting the development needs of the new situation.

'The problem of corruption among some judicial officials remains serious. For this, the Supreme People's Court must take the blame of failing to do a good job in supervision and direction.' Mr Xiao said incompetent judges would be sacked and disciplined. He invited NPC members to be the Judiciary's watchdog.

'Starting this year, if any local judges are found to have caused major social grievances because of corruption, not only the judges will face prosecution under the law but the presidents of their corresponding courts must also report and explain to the provincial higher people's courts,' Mr Xiao said.

'If such cases happen twice at the provincial level, the presidents of the provincial higher people's court must report to the Supreme People's Court and they will be held responsible.' Mr Xiao's pledge won applause from delegates.

He also warned law-breakers not to expect leniency, especially those who tried to 'split the country, sabotage the state and subvert the socialist system'.

The trial of 'Big Spender' Cheung Tze-keung and his gang in Guangdong last year showed Beijing's determination to safeguard the 'dignity of the law' and 'defend law and order on the mainland and Hong Kong', he said.

Unlike his predecessors, Mr Xiao concentrated much of his report on cleaning up and reforming the Judiciary, including a three-year programme to re-train senior judges at central and local levels, and accepting supervision from NPC members and the media.

He promised to go all the way to improve judges' professional standards, including severing all commercial links of the Judiciary, re-establishing a 'firewall' between judges and the defendants to prevent corruption and forbidding judges from soliciting fees from lawyers and their clients.

The Judiciary had completed the exercise to sever its commercial interests by last November, Mr Xiao said. A total 394 firms were shut, 61 were handed over to the Government and 88 were moved out of the judicial system.

Mr Xiao admitted commercial crime had risen alarmingly in the past year. A total of 4,834 cases of financial irregularities were handled by the courts, up 400 per cent from 1997.

Economic crimes, including graft and embezzlement of public funds, remained serious last year. The Judiciary handled 18,468 cases. Of those accused, 15,670 people were convicted.