China mulls recalling convicts 'illegally' released from jails

Beijing: China may recall over 700 convicts, including 76 "corrupt officials", whose sentences were commuted "illegally" as the country's top prosecution body stumbled on largescale unlawful reduction of sentences.

The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) has suggested that more than 700 convicts, including 76 corrupt senior officials, whose sentences were commuted illegally, should be returned to prison, state-run China Daily reported today.

This follows an intensive crackdown on illegal commutation of sentences or conditional releases, said the SPP.
"Apart from receiving clues from the public and the media, we have also conducted investigations to find such cases," said SPP spokesman Zhang Bencai.

The top procuratorate said that since March, national prosecutors have received 428 pieces of information involving the illegal reduction of sentences, release on parole, or serving sentences outside of prison.

They probed 120 law-enforcement officers for dereliction of duty or abusing their powers to help prisoners get reduced sentences or conditional release in exchange for huge bribes.

It appears the commutation of sentences was carried out taking advantage of the lacuna in Criminal Law which stated that if inmates behave well or credited with "meritorious achievements", including inventions and technological innovations, their sentences can be commuted.

If they are diagnosed with illnesses such as heart disease and are unable to complete their sentences in prison, they can serve their terms outside to obtain medical treatment, the report said.

China is undertaking a major crackdown against corruption in the ruling Communist Party, government, army, judiciary and official media, initiated by President Xi Jinping.

In January, the Ministry of Public Security issued a note strictly regulating commutation of sentences.

The move was taken to combat judicial corruption and to improve judicial fairness and credibility.

Yuan Qiguo, director of the SPP's prison management bureau, said prosecutors paid attention to investigating prisoners such as corrupt officials, those who committed major economic crimes, mafialike gang members and those involved with violent and terrorist attacks.

Yuan said the offenders usually bribed prison officers and submitted fake documents to get their sentences commuted.