Long court delays can bring payment

Updated: 2016-01-06 08:20

By Cao Yin(China Daily)

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Accused robber whose case languished for 18 years applies for compensation

People accused of crimes who suffer long delays in getting a final court judgment can receive State compensation for time spent in detention and their cases can be thrown out, under a new judicial interpretation that took effect on Jan 1.

Under the interpretation issued by China's top court and procuratorate, if the police do not hand a case to prosecutors for more than one year after the expiration of bail, or if prosecutors do not move forward with a case, litigants may be eligible for compensation for past time spent under coercion, such as being held in a detention house.

Based on that interpretation, Gao Yanlong, a robbery suspect whose case has had no judgment for 18 years, asked the Sanmenxia Intermediate People's Court in Henan province on Monday to pay more than 2 million yuan ($306,800) in compensation for his 2,410-day detention and the resulting economic losses and mental suffering he endured.

He is the first to apply for State compensation under the new interpretation.

Gao was given a suspended death sentence for robbery in his first trial after being detained in 1992. After he appealed, the provincial high people's court sent the case back to the lower court to retry the case because of what it said was insufficient evidence and unclear facts.

In 1998, Gao was released on bail pending trial, but the case has not been reheard.

Wang Yaonan, the spokesman for the intermediate people's court, said on Tuesday that he was aware of Gao's case and confirmed that his application for compensation had been registered.

"Our case-filing tribunal is reviewing materials from Gao now and will decide whether to accept the case in a timely manner," Wang said.

Under a guideline issued by the Supreme People's Court last year, courts must make a decision whether or not to accept a case within seven days.

Yuan Ningning, a criminal law researcher at Beijing Normal University, spoke highly of the latest interpretation, saying that it will alleviate the problem that some criminal cases have not been concluded after a long period.

Prosecutors must decide whether to renew their prosecution or withdraw a previous prosecution within one year after a case has been designated for retrial.

"But the reality is that some complicated cases were ended after a long period of time," Yuan said.

"The interpretation represents progress in protecting litigants' rights. Defendants whose cases were dragged out by pending verdicts and who suffered long-term detention can be compensated," he said. "Also, it will motivate prosecutors to make a decision within the legal time limit for reducing cases like Gao's."

"The interpretation will be good news for accused people in such cases," said Ruan Chuansheng, a criminal lawyer in Shanghai.

"It is also an effective way to regulate judicial bodies."