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Violent crime down, SPP reports

Top procuratorate also proves even older cases may not escape justice

By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-18 09:32

The nature of crime in China has shifted noticeably, with a significant decrease in serious violent crimes and a rise in minor offenses, according to a white paper on criminal prosecution released by the Supreme People's Procuratorate on March 9.

Prosecutions for serious violent crimes decreased from 162,000 in 1999 to 61,000 last year, with its proportion in terms of total prosecutions decreasing from 25.1 percent to 3.6 percent in that time. Meanwhile, the proportion of cases with sentencings of fewer than three years of imprisonment increased from 54.4 percent in 1999 to 82.3 percent last year, the white paper said.

Among minor crimes reviewed for prosecution, dangerous driving, theft, aiding network crime activities, concealing or disguising criminal proceeds and profits, and fraud accounted for 53.7 percent.

In response to the continuous increase in the number and proportion of minor crimes, efforts have been made to collaborate with relevant parties to address them, as outlined in the SPP's annual work report, approved at the just concluded second session of the 14th National People's Congress.

It noted that procuratorates have fully and accurately implemented a criminal policy of tempering justice with mercy, and pledged to severely punish those that commit serious violent crimes such as intentional homicide, robbery and kidnapping.

Last year, procuratorates worked with public security organs to crack down on longstanding unsolved cases. As a result, the SPP approved the prosecution of 137 homicide cases that occurred more than 20 years ago.

According to the law, when the suspected crime carries a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty, prosecution is no longer pursued after 20 years. If it is deemed necessary to prosecute after 20 years, approval must be sought from the top procuratorate.

In a case mentioned in the work report, police in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, found a stranded boat with multiple bloodstains in March 1987, leading to the discovery of six missing family members believed to have been murdered. Two male suspects were identified, but the police had no more clues due to limited investigative resources at the time, and the case stalled.

In August 2022, a man named Jiang Sixing from Ningbo, Zhejiang, was implicated in the case when his fingerprints matched a bloody fingerprint from the crime scene. He then confessed and was arrested along with an accomplice, Xue Sanyuan.

Jiang and Xue, villagers burdened by gambling debts, conspired to rob a fishing boat in 1987.They pretended to transport fish cargo and tricked the victims into drinking white wine laced with sedatives. They then murdered them with a hammer and bound their bodies with anchors to submerge them in the sea. They stole 7,000 yuan ($973) in cash from the boat.

In January last year, the Zhejiang provincial procuratorate applied for prosecution of the case, despite the crime happening more than 30 years ago, arguing that it had a huge social impact. The SPP approved the prosecution after review in May.

In November, the court in Zhoushan sentenced the two to death, depriving them of their political rights for life and confiscating all their personal property.

The SPP's work report emphasized that punishing crimes is the fundamental responsibility of procuratorial organs in maintaining stability. While justice may be delayed, it will eventually prevail.

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