Judicial organs in China have vigorously promoted a special campaign against organized crime and achieved initial success last year.

Last year, 30,547 people were prosecuted in China for allegedly organizing, leading and participating in mafia-style gangs, almost three times as many as in 2018, according to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

Another 67,689 people were prosecuted last year for their alleged involvement in other types of criminal gangs, one-third more than the previous year.

Procuratorates across the country also prosecuted 1,385 people last year who were accused of protecting gang-related criminals, almost four times as many as in 2018, according to the 2019 work report of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate delivered to the third session of the 13th National’s People’s Congress that concluded last week.

The top procuratorate and other central authorities issued guidelines last year to push forward a special three-year crackdown on gang-related crime that was launched in 2018. It also directly supervised the handling of 107 major cases, according to the work report.

The special campaign was launched against the background of the strengthening of the rule of law in China. The procuratorial organs have been urged to strictly follow the law to ensure the proper handling of each case, said Wang Songmiao, spokesman for the SPP.

Wang noted that the SPP has also issued five examples of unconfirmed gang-related cases last year to show procuratorial organs how to identify such cases. Procuratorates at all levels have also been required to strictly distinguish between the legal and illegal property of criminals.

2020 is the last year of the special campaign. The SPP and the Ministry of Public Security have agreed to allow procuratorial organs to intervene in initial investigations when dealing with organized crime, Wang said, adding that a large number of cases have entered the prosecution stage and the procuratorial organs would maintain both efficiency and quality.

The courts in China adhere to the principle of severely punishing gang-related crimes.

Last year, courts across the country concluded 12,639 cases related to gang crimes involving a total of 83,912 people, according to the 2019 work report of the Supreme People’s Court.

In the cases of Sun Xiaoguo, a gang leader in Yunnan province involved in organized crime, rape and other crimes, and Du Shaoping, the leader of a gang responsible for killing and burying a man under a school sports ground over 16 years ago in Hunan province, the two ringleaders were sentenced to death and executed.

The top court, together with other departments, introduced guidelines to deal with gang-related cases involving fraud and illegal loans and to severely punish public officials who commit crimes related to gangs.

By the end of March, 3.6 percent of concluded cases had not been categorized as being involved with organizing, leading and participating in mafia-style gangs, said Li Yong, the presiding judge at the SPC’s No 3 Criminal Division.

The defendant’s litigation rights such as defense and cross-examination are fully protected, and the court also ensures transparency by making trials public and standardizing court proceedings, Li said.

He noted that courts will work with other authorities and industry regulatory agencies to ensure the enforcement of verdicts.

“The courts are also urged to accurately distinguish between property used for normal business operations and property supporting criminal gangs, when destroying criminals’ economic foundations, to protect the legitimate rights and interests of private enterprises,” Li said,

Yuan Aiping, a lawyer who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference from Hunan province, said that the SPP and the SPC have contributed to the eradication of gang-related crime, making China a very safe country.

“As a citizen, I am pleased to witness the achievements and that the order of society has been ensured. As a lawyer, my observation is that the ongoing campaign of eliminating organized crime is being carried out within the principle of the rule of law, highlighting fairness and justice,” Yuan said.

Yuan said the crackdown on organized crime should be normalized to prevent its re-emergence.

Meanwhile, authorities must further root out those who protect gang-related criminals and destroy their economic foundations, he added.

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