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    China Punishes Over 500 Prosecutors for Wrongful Convictions

    The penalties were given under the “lifetime accountability mechanism” introduced in 2013.

    A total of 511 prosecutors have been held accountable for criminal cases dating back decades and were found to be wrongful convictions after retrial since 2018, China’s top procuratorate said Monday.

    Tong Jianming, grand prosecutor and first deputy prosecutor general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, said some of the prosecutors had retired over 20 years ago but would be punished as part of the “lifetime accountability mechanism.” However, there was no mention of the punishments that would be handed to the prosecutors.

    To avoid wrongful convictions, China’s top justice authority established the lifetime accountability mechanism in 2013 to hold judges, prosecutors, and police officers responsible for the cases they handled. Punishments include criminal penalties, party disciplinary measures, and administrative disciplines for public officials.

    Last year, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate investigated all of the 246 criminal cases that were re-trialed and corrected since 2018. Twenty-two of those cases had wrongly jailed people for over 10 years.

    In recent years, several high-profile cases involving wrongful convictions have made headlines in China. In 2020, 53-year-old Zhang Yuhuan was released from prison after he was wrongfully jailed for 27 years for murder, and in 2018, another man, 50-year-old Liu Zhonglin was acquitted after 28 years.

    One of the largest punishments for those involved in a wrongful conviction saw 27 officers in the justice system punished in 2016, with the then deputy director of a district-level public security bureau in the city of Hohhot receiving an 18-year prison sentence. They were punished two years after the wrongful conviction of a young man from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for rape and homicide was overturned.

    During Monday’s press briefing, Tong said some 230,000 people involved in gang crimes and another 2,987 people working as their “protective umbrellas” had been prosecuted during the three-year national crackdown on gang crimes since 2018. He added that the procuratorate was handling crimes involving minors more cautiously.

    In the first half of this year, the rate of “denied arrests” of underage suspects reached 63% and the proportion of dropped prosecutions for minors stood at 54%. The numbers were up by 29% and 30% respectively from 2018.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: VCG)