Government and Policy

New regulation bans torture confessions

Updated: 2010-06-24 23:52
Large Medium Small

BEIJING - China's highest court has published details of a regulation banning the admission of confessions obtained through torture in criminal trials.

The rule comes after a man who was wrongly jailed for murder was released last month when the victim turned up alive and well 10 years later.

It is one of the two regulations issued by the Supreme People's Court Thursday to prevent further miscarriages of justice and tighten the conviction criteria in capital cases.

The regulations focus on corroboration of physical evidence and human testimony in death penalty cases.

The regulation on principles and detailed rules for scrutinizing evidence in death penalty cases states that all physical evidence for the prosecution and defense should be revealed, identified and open to question in court.

Every item of evidence should be verified through legal procedures.

The other regulation sets out detailed procedures for examining evidence and stipulates that confessions obtained through torture and other violent measures from a defendant are inadmissible.

The rules were released by five ministries and judicial organs at the end of May, following the case of a "killer" wrongfully jailed for a murder that never occurred.

Zhao Zuohai was acquitted after serving 10 years in jail for murder in Central Henan Province after the "victim," Zhao Zhenshang, reappeared alive.

Three former police officers were arrested for allegedly torturing Zhao Zuohai into confessing to a crime that never happened.

"Judicial practice in recent years shows that slack and improper methods have been used to gather, examine and exclude evidence in various cases, especially those involving the death penalty," said a statement jointly released by the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice.