Hundreds 'should be sent back to prison'

Updated: 2014-08-27 06:57

By Zhang Yan(China Daily)

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The country's top prosecution body has suggested that more than 700 convicts, including 76 corrupt senior officials, whose sentences were commuted illegally, should be returned to prison.

This follows an intensified crackdown on the illegal commutation of sentences or conditional releases, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said on Tuesday.

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These prisoners will be under the supervision of prosecuting departments.

"Apart from receiving clues from the public and the media, we have also conducted investigations to find such cases," said SPP spokesman Zhang Bencai.

The top procuratorate said that since March, national prosecutors have received 428 items of information involving the illegal reduction of sentences, release on parole, or serving sentences outside of prison.

They have investigated 120 law enforcement officers on suspicion of dereliction of duty or abusing their powers to help prisoners obtain reduced sentences or conditional release in exchange for huge bribes.

Under the Criminal Law, if inmates behave well or are credited with "meritorious achievements", including inventions and technological innovations, while in prison their sentences can be commuted.

If they are diagnosed with illnesses such as heart disease and are unable to complete their sentences in prison, they can serve their terms outside to obtain medical treatment.

In January, the Ministry of Public Security issued a notice strictly regulating commutation of sentences, conditional releases or sentences being served outside prison.

The action was taken to combat judicial corruption, especially among officials and the rich, and to improve judicial fairness and credibility.

In March, the SPP launched a 9-month campaign nationwide.

Yuan Qiguo, director of the SPP's prison management bureau, said prosecutors paid attention to investigating prisoners such as corrupt officials, those who committed major economic crimes, mafialike gang members and those involved with violent and terrorist attacks.

Yuan said these offenders usually bribed prison officers and submitted fake documents to get their sentences commuted.

He said that to tackle the problem, the top prosecution department and judicial authorities will issue an interpretation stating the criteria for serving sentences outside prison.

Liu Fang, a member of the All China Lawyers Association, said the key is to improve judicial transparency.

"When a prison decides to reduce a sentence, it should pass the documents to prosecutors to carefully check them, before submitting them to the superior court for a final ruling," she said, adding that the court hearing and verdicts should be publicized.