Courts step up fight against outbreak-related crime

( Updated : 2020-03-11

Chinese courts have intensified the fight against crime relating to the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak as a move to ensure people's health and offer legal protection for the battle against the epidemic, according to China's top court.

On March 10, the Supreme People's Court issued 10 influential criminal cases concluded by courts nationwide during the epidemic period after a selection, noting the offenses, including faking outbreak-related information and illegally hunting wildlife, seriously disturbed epidemic control work, brought security risks to the public and made people panic.

On Feb 28, for example, Beijing Tongzhou District People's Court sentenced a defendant surnamed Liu to eight months in jail after identifying Liu as having falsified information on virus transmission through WeChat and QQ, two popular instant messaging tools in the country.

Hearings on wildlife-related cases have also been strengthened in recent weeks. The move came after the country vowed to harshly crack down on the illegal consumption of wild animals amid the outbreak, as the virus is widely believed to have originated in wildlife.

On March 5, for instance, Huadu District People's Court in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, gave an eight-year prison sentence to a defendant surnamed Chen for his illegal pangolin purchase.

To efficiently prevent the disease, courts across the country have been ordered to solve easy cases, or those with clear facts and sufficient evidence, by simplifying procedures in line with laws, the top court said, adding about 40 percent of epidemic-related criminal cases have been concluded in this way as of March 4.

But if a case is complicated or a defendant disagrees with his or her accusation, courts must heard it through normal procedures to fully protect the defendant's legitimate rights and avoid the case being heard roughly, an official from the top court's No 1 Criminal Division, added in a statement.