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 Shandong prosecutors win historic suit against environment watchdog
Category:Judicial News  
Subject:Environmental protection  
Publish Date:06-22-2016

Prosecutors in a county in east China's Shandong Province have won a lawsuit against the local environmental protection department in the first public interest case pitting prosecutors against a government administration, according to the provincial procuratorate.

On Monday, Qingyun County People's Court ruled in favor of the county's procuratorate, which accused the county's environmental protection bureau of "illegal acts" in its relations with a local chemical firm.

The court said the bureau broke the law by allowing Qingshun Chemical Technology Company to start trial operations and prolong the trial period.

The lawsuit came after prosecutors found in October 2014 that the company had produced a dye without adequate environmental protection measures and had been causing pollution since August 2008.

Despite residents' anger and pressure from the county government, the environmental bureau failed in its supervisory capacity and imposed only nominal administrative punishments, prosecutors said.

After two warnings issued in May 2014 and January 2015 that were ignored, the procuratorate filed the suit on December 16.

China's top legislature approved a legal document in July 2015 allowing prosecutors to introduce public interest litigation in civil and administrative cases against government acts that compromise public rights and interests.

The legal reform plan will optimize judicial functions, improve administrative lawsuits, and advance administration by law, President Xi Jinping said in an explanation of the plan in 2014.

Citizens, corporations and other organizations cannot initiate public interest lawsuits against some administrative organs for abuse of power or nonfeasance because they are not considered to have direct stakes.

Such cases may involve the protection of state assets, the transfer of usage rights for state-owned land and protection of the environment and resources.

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