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China to Try Out British Jury System

China News Digest, 13 June 2001

[CND, 06/13/01] Chinese police, prosecutors, judges, lawyers and legislators are participating in a two-day mock trial using the British jury system, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday.

The trial will be followed by discussions and seminars on the differences between the Chinese and British system.

As China moves away from the inquisition system, we are hoping this lively debate will help to stimulate change. We see legal reform as crucial and behind the entire reform system in China, said Michael O'Sullivan, cultural counsellor for the British Embassy's Cultural and Education Section.

The mock trial is based on a drug trafficking case. The focus is on defendant's rights. It will also examine issues such as evidence collection and admission, witness protection, judicial independence, and sentencing policy.

Officials admitted that it has been difficult to implement protection of defendant's rights even though China has revised its criminal laws in 1996. Although the 1997 Criminal Procedures Law stipulated the use of an adversarial system, we still need to make efforts to guarantee implementation, said Wang Lixian, director-general of the Ministry of Justice's Foreign Affairs Office. (Dong LIU)