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June 11, 2010

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2 jurors join judge on verdict

FOR the first time, two people's jurors joined a judge in issuing the verdict after a hearing at Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court yesterday.

They sent a snakehead, or human trafficker, to two years in prison yesterday for attempting to smuggle two men abroad.

Usually, one juror at most is included on a three-member bench and can hardly have the final say.

The court heard that Wang Song'en, 54, a Chinese with a residence permit in Luxemburg, provided two blank Polish visas to a friend, Huang Zheguang, in May 2009. The visas were stolen from the Poland Embassy.

Huang gave the visas to two Fujian Province natives, who wanted to sneak into France to work.

With the help of Zhou Jiajie, a local snakehead, the two tried to take a plane to France on May 9, 2009, but were caught at Pudong International Airport. Their three helpers were seized later.

Both jurors questioned the defendant yesterday. They talked with the chief judge after the hearing and decided the verdict 15 minutes later.

"With more people's jurors attending the hearings, opinions of common people will be better respected and the verdict will be more fair and open," said Huang Xiangqing, deputy director of the court.

Huang lauded the quick ruling after the hearing, saying such fast decisions avoid intervention from other sides or comment of the society and media.

The court said the two-juror arrangement will be used in simple cases or cases arousing wide social attention. The people's jurors are supposed to express opinions before the judge after the hearing so that they won't be influenced by the judge.

If two of the collegial bench have the same opinion, the verdict will be decided based on idea of the majority. If the three panel members each have different opinions, the case should be discussed by a commission of senior judges.

People older than 23 and without criminal record can become a people's juror. Local courts will pick names from a database at random when jurors are needed.


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