China's Xi Vows Legal Reforms to End 'Injustice'
Chinese President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed his commitment to reform the country's corruption-riddled legal system, but stressed the Communist Party will not loosen its grip over the courts.
A series of high-profile wrongful convictions has helped sap public confidence in China's courts, which have a conviction rate of nearly 100 percent and have long relied on forced confessions.
In an address this week, President Xi acknowledged that malpractice, including "injustice and wrongful convictions," remain a problem, according to a report in the official Xinhua news agency.
If these issues are not addressed "in a timely manner," the Communist Party leader said "they would hinder the progress of the rule of law, and damage social fairness and justice."
But Mr. Xi emphasized the party will continue to exercise authority over the courts, saying this "represents the basic characteristics and political advantages of the socialist judicial system."
US Launches Airstrikes on Tikrit
UPDATE: updates US Iraq 1st UPD from 3/25; new lede & grafs 2-4, 7-9))
Warplanes from a U.S.-led coalition launched airstrikes against Islamic State targets in the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday, after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi requested support for a month-old offensive to retake the strategic area.
Iraqi troops and Shi'ite militias have been battling on the ground, and had resisted asking for outside air support, but after quick gains outside Tikrit, the effort stalled.
U.S. Lt. Gen. James Terry, who commands the coalition effort, said the airstrikes will better enable the Iraqi forces to oust the militants.
"These strikes are intended to destroy ISIL strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimizing collateral damage to infrastructure," he said.
Tikrit is the capital of Salahuddin province, an area located between the capital, Baghdad, and Iraq's second largest city of Mosul that has been controlled by Islamic State fighters since June.