Capital leads way in fairer court rules
Beijing courts have begun implementing new rules on the presentation of evidence and testimonies.
The rules, issued by Beijing Higher People's Court yesterday, would be used in all Beijing courts, Xinhua said.
The capital was the first mainland city to implement the 149 new articles, aimed at boosting efficiency and impartiality in trials, the agency said.
Trials in China have been criticised by Western observers, who claimed judges merely rubber-stamp verdicts decided by Communist Party leaders. Sceptics also claimed defence lawyers were more instruments of the state than professionals who fought for clients.
China amended the Criminal Procedures Law in March 1996 to provide more protection for defendants and allow lawyers to play a greater role in trials.
However, legal workers and human rights activists said the amended laws were inadequate and failed to prevent abuses.
The new articles lay down time limits on the presentation of evidence.
They will also require both sides to present evidence in open court - not in back rooms before judges - and witnesses to testify in court unless they have a valid excuse.