BEIJING, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Chinese courts convicted and punished 5.24 million criminals from 2008 to 2012, up 25.5 percent over the period from 2003 to 2007, said the country's top judge here Sunday.
Among them, 1.86 million were convicted of felony charges, including murder, robbery, kidnap, planting bombs, human trafficking and organizational crimes, said Wang Shengjun, president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), when delivering the work report of the SPC at the first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC).
According to the work report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, about 2.97 million suspects were charged in felony cases.
About 20,000 criminals were convicted of crimes related to the production and distribution of unsafe foods and substandard commodities, Wang told nearly 3,000 national lawmakers, who will deliberate the report.
The courts have been cautious about delivering the death penalty and the supreme court strictly reviewed these sentences, he said.
"We have ensured the capital punishment to be imposed on a very small number of people convicted of extremely serious crimes," he said.
Over the past five years, the SPC closed 49,863 cases and local courts closed 55.26 million cases.
The number of closed cases by courts of all levels increased from 9.84 million in 2008 to 12.4 million in 2012, an increase of 26 percent, according to Wang's report.
Civil cases related to business and intellectual property rights have seen notable increase in the past five years.
The number of business cases rose by 42.6 percent from the previous five years to 16.3 million cases in the period from 2008 to 2012, Wang said.
The number of cases related to intellectual property rights increased by 284.2 percent to 278,000 cases in the period from 2008 to 2012.
Over the past five years, the courts sanctioned a total of 218 million yuan (34.6 million U.S. dollars) as state compensation in about 8,600 cases.
Efforts were made to better respond to ordinary people's concerns during court proceedings and their complaints about certain verdicts. Last year, courts of all levels received about 601,000 visits of citizens who lodged complaints and petitions, down 75.5 percent from that of 2007.
The supreme court also worked to improve transparency of court proceedings. Annual work reports of courts were published and judgement papers were put on line while parties could follow the proceeding of their cases through court websites.
With fast development of the people's juror system over the past five years, the number of people's jurors increased by 52.7 percent to 85,000 from 2007 to 2012.
Selected from common citizens from all walks of life to work with professional judges at lower courts, people's jurors took part in over 1.49 million cases last year, up nearly 300 percent over 2007, according to Wang.
Despite the progress in the past five years, the court system still faced a number of difficulties and problems, Wang said.
Efforts are needed to guarantee the independence of judges and courts and to improve the transparency of court work, he said.
Judges have to improve their professional skills since some of them are incapable of properly handling complicated cases under new circumstances, Wang said.
The top judge also blamed a number of judges for improper style of work or even corruption and dereliction of duty, which "has seriously tarnished the image of the people's courts and the public trust on judiciary system."