Plea bargaining in China"s criminal cases increases effielectronic twitchciency: report

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BEIJING -- China"s pilot of plea bargaining in criminal cases over the past year has greatly improved litigation efficiency and enabled more reasonable allocation of judicial resources, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang said Saturday.

It took 26 days on average for prosecuting organs to deal with such cases, and 83.5 percent of them were adjudicated by courts within 15 days, said Zhou, president of the Supreme People"s Court (SPC), when briefing lawmakers about the progress of the reform.

In September 2016, the top legislature approved a two-year pilot program to allow suspects to plead guilty in return for a lesser charge in 18 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Under the program, suspects and defendants who are willing to confess, agree with prosecutors" crime and sentencing proposals, and sign affidavits, will be given mitigated punishments.

Defendants who may face jail terms of three years or below fall under the pilot.

As of November, 281 courts and 281 procuratorates have been chosen to pilot the reform, and 91,121 cases involving 103,496 suspects have been dealt with under the pilot, accounting for 45 percent of the total number of cases handled by the designated courts, figures from the report show.

In an effort to ensure right of suspects and defendants, 630 judicial assistance stations were set up in detention centers, courts and procuratorates in the 18 cities.

Zhou said the SPC and Supreme People"s Procuratorate (SPP) would step up oversight on judges and prosecutors to prevent judicial corruption and power abuse.

The report was submitted to the ongoing bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People"s Congress for deliberation. The session will end Wednesday.

Though China has seen a decline in serious criminal cases threatening social order, the number of minor cases is still large and they are not always efficiently dealt with by understaffed judicial departments.