China moves to protect attorney-client privilege

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BEIJING, Oct 28 (Reuters) Meetings in China between defence attorneys and criminal suspects would no longer be monitored under a draft law approved by China's legislature, the Xinhua news agency said TODay.

The legislature closed a five-day bi-monthly session with a flurry of activity, approving other bills aimed at slowing rampant property development, conserving energy and enforcing civil court rulings, the agency added.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted a draft amendment that Xinhua said would make it easier for lawyers to meet with criminal suspects and obtain evidence, Xinhua said.

Defence attorneys and criminal suspects will not be monitored when they meet and lawyers with proper documentation, such as a legal practitioner certificate, will be entitled to meet criminal suspects or defendants in person once judicial organs have finished their initial interrogation.

Defence lawyers also will be entitled to look up all files and materials relating to their cases, Xinhua said.

The legislature passed another draft law that aims to ban what Xinhua called ''vanity'' real estate projects.

The law says urban and rural development plans should be drawn up keeping various principles in mind, among them conservation of land resources, protecting the environment and preserving the country's cultural heritage.

In addition, government officials responsible for urban or rural planning who abuse their offices will face criminal proceedings or be subject to administrative penalties, it said.

An amendment to a law on energy conservation ties the job assessment of officials with their success in this area.

The revised law also details measures to avoid energy waste, improve energy efficiency and cut pollution emissions. Xinhua did not provide further details on these measures.

An amendment to the Civil Procedure Law will help address the longstanding problem that civil court rulings often are not enforced, the agency said.

Chinese courts found that in 2006, 2.13 million civil case rulings had not been carried out. Almost half of those rulings have yet to be implemented, Xinhua said.

The amendment increases fines for those who refuse to execute a civil court ruling, it said.

Reuters GT DB2302

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