Media's Supreme Court Scrutiny

Judge Wang Linqing said both the original and the back-up copies of documents related to the case had mysteriously disappeared from his office one weekend in November, 2016. This took place after he indicated he would rule in favour of the private businessman Zhao Faqi.

Two closed-circuit TV cameras in the building were both found to be broken around the time the documents went missing. Mr Wang, who questioned why two new cameras would break down at the same time, said he reported the missing documents to a director in his office but there was no follow up.

"I would like to use this video to protect myself and leave some evidence in case something happens to me," the judge said in the video viewed by The Australian Financial Review before it was taken offline by censors.

The judge also said in his video testimony he had been harassed and detained by authorities in 2014 after refusing to be guided in a separate case involving a dispute over an iron ore mine. About 110,000 yuan ($22,580) he had earned for giving lectures on the legal system was taken off him at the time, he alleged.

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Chinese media quoted Supreme Court authorities initially denying there had been any wrongdoing. But they backtracked and agreed to launch an investigation after Cui posted copies of court files relating to the case. The case has gone viral on China's social media networks.

"This has exposed concern about the justice system if even a judge cannot protect himself or make an honest decision," one blogger posted on China's social messaging platform WeChat. "Even worse, a judge can be threatened and has to resort to mass social media to protect himself which is a big irony."

The legal dispute centres on the ownership of a mine in Shaanxi province in north-west China more than a decade ago. While the High Court in Shaanxi province originally found in favour of the government, the private businessman appealed and took it to the Supreme Court. At the time, the provincial government complained and said a loss would have a "serious impact to the stability" of the province, according to one lawyer involved.

The case has alarmed China's private sector as it seeks more equal treatment from the Chinese government, which has a reputation for favouring state-owned enterprises.The case has not been resolved because the court was unable to implement Mr Wang's verdict without the missing documents.

The Chinese Communist Party's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission said last week it would launch an investigation into the case alongside police and the anti-corruption watchdog.

Source : https://www.afr.com/news/world/asia/chinas-legal-system-under-scrutiny-after-court-documents-go-missing-20190111-h19zbc

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