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China convicts nearly 99 percent of criminal defendants: state media

[JURIST] China [JURIST news archive] has convicted almost all criminal defendants who have come before the courts over the last nine years, the People's Court Daily [media website, in Chinese] reported Thursday. From January 1998 through September 2006, 6.2 million criminal defendants were tried with only 41,038 of them acquitted, representing just 0.66 percent. Chinese judges came together this week for its first meeting to discuss criminal trials in nearly 10 years with Xiao Yang [profile], president of the Supreme Court of the People's Republic of China [official website], urging reform by cautioning the judges against presuming guilt of the defendants before trial and asking them to be cautious about forced confessions.

The Chinese court system has come under intense scrutiny in recent years as reports surfaced detailing wrongful convictions, the absence of the presumption of innocence, police torture [JURIST report] to solicit confessions, and the lack of due process for criminal defendants. Beginning on January 1 2007, the Supreme Court will be the sole reviewer of death sentence cases [JURIST report], taking this responsibility back from the provincial high courts. Reuters has more.

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