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Suspects' questioning to be taped
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-19 06:27

The whole process of public prosecutors' questioning of suspects of corruption and other crimes at work will be videotaped from this year, in an attempt to ensure judicial fairness.

According to a Xinhua News Agency report, the move is regarded as a major step towards regulating procuratorate law enforcement.

As the first step, the procedure of questioning suspects of crimes at work by public prosecutors will be sound-recorded from March, according to a national conference held in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province.

Meanwhile, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, provincial-level people's procuratorates, provincial capital-level people's procuratorates and grass-roots people's procuratorates in East China will videotape the process of questioning suspects of big bribery cases and other crimes at work.

Following the procedures in East China, grass-roots people's procuratorates in western and central areas of China will also begin to videotape suspects of major bribery and other occupational crimes.

Finally, from October next year, the whole process will be videotaped throughout China, sources said.

"The move will definitely force prosecutors to regulate law enforcement and avoid any illegal actions," Wang Zhenchuan, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate said at the conference on Tuesday.

According to Chinese laws, it is the function of people's procuratorates to investigate crimes at work such as corruption, bribery and malfeasance.

Wang said that video recording would help collect evidence, prevent confessions being denied in court, find new investigation clues and train other public prosecutors.

It has been reported that some developed regions have begun to videotape the process of questioning suspects.

For example, people's procuratorates in Zhejiang began to do so in 1999.

According to sources with the Supreme People's Procuratorate, video records of the process of questioning must be kept as a whole, and nobody is permitted to delete any part of the record.

Prosecutors who refuse to videotape questioning or delete records will be punished, sources said.

Fan Chongyi, professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, praised the decision.

"It shows that China's criminal evidence system has entered the era of high-tech evidence," he was quoted by the People's Daily as saying.

In the past, prosecutors recorded the questioning process on paper.

However, some suspects withdraw confessions at court, and sometimes prosecutors use torture to extract confessions.

"Practice proves that video recording of questioning reduces these two phenomena," Fan said.

"This will help achieve justice," he said.

(China Daily 01/19/2006 page2)

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