Found guilty:  Bo Xilai standing on trial in the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan.

Found guilty: Bo Xilai standing on trial in the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan.

Beijing: Chinese courts acquitted a total of 825 people out of almost 1.16 million verdicts last year, the Supreme People's Court says - a conviction rate of 99.93 per cent.

In a report to the annual session of the Communist Party-controlled National People's Congress, Zhou Qiang, head of the Supreme People's Court, said that Chinese courts convicted 1.158 million people in 954,000 criminal cases heard.

They exonerated only 825 people, he said in the report, in accordance with rules including "protecting human rights" and "excluding illegal evidence".

Abuses are widespread in China's legal system, where police routinely coerce confessions.

Human rights groups say that Chinese courts are politically controlled and their rulings are often affected by government agendas, with activists who come to trial virtually certain to be found guilty.

In a separate report to the NPC, Cao Jianming, head of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said that prosecutors had intervened 72,370 times over "illegal investigation methods including excessive use of coercive measures, obtaining evidence via illegal means and obtaining confessions through torture".

The number of times officials stepped in was up 27.3 per cent year-on-year, he added.

Wang Cailiang, director of Beijing Cailiang Law Firm, said China's courts refused to hear most land expropriation cases lodged by citizens against the government and not a single public welfare lawsuit, such as over pollution, had been accepted.

"The year 2013 marked the darkest year in the history of China's rule of law," he told AFP.

"President Xi Jinping's call for the country to be ruled by law had no one to put it into practice," he said.

The Supreme Court itself pointed out flaws in China's legal system.

"The rulings in some cases were not fair ... which harmed the interests of the litigants and undermined the credibility of the law," Mr Zhou said in the report.

AFP