Mur­der re­trial may over­turn con­vic­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YI zhang_yi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Four men who claim they were wrong­fully jailed for mur­der had their case re­tried at the Jiangxi Higher Peo­ple’s Court.

Zhang Weiyu, the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Fang Chun­ping, who has been serv­ing his sen­tence since 2006, said he is op­ti­mistic about the pre­vi­ous rul­ing be­ing over­turned.

“There is in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence for the orig­i­nal ver­dict re­gard­ing the four men. In ad­di­tion, a man sus­pected of be­ing the real mur­derer has been caught,” Zhang told China Daily.

The court heard the case on Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on its web­site. The trial was a closed-door af­fair as the case in­volves in­di­vid­ual pri­vacy, it said.

The four pro­claimed their in­no­cence.

No ver­dict was handed down, but Zhang ex­pected a rul­ing would be made by the end of this month.

Fang and three oth­ers were sen­tenced to death on Nov 18, 2004, by the In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi prov­ince, in con­nec­tion with the mur­der of a man and a woman who had been raped be­fore be­ing killed.

The sen­tences were re­duced to death penal­ties with a twoyear reprieve by the Jiangxi Higher Peo­ple’s Court on May 31, 2006, af­ter an ap­peal. In China, such a sen­tence will be re­duced to life in prison if the pris­oner be­haves well over the two years.

The orig­i­nal rul­ing cited a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion as say­ing that the four had con­fessed to the crime, but the men later said they were tor­tured into con­fess­ing and de­nied it, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese me­dia re­ports.

How­ever, in late 2011, lo­cal vil­lager Fang Lin­zai, who was ap­pre­hended for kid­nap­ping a woman, con­fessed to po­lice that he was the one who com­mit­ted the 2004 mur­der, Bei­jing Times re­ported.

The fam­i­lies of the four per­sisted in ap­peal­ing the case, and the Jiangxi Higher Peo­ple’s Court de­cided on July 31 last year to retry it.

The most-re­cent ma­jor over­turn­ing of a wrong­ful con­vic­tion was the an­nounce­ment in 2014 of the in­no­cence of Hug jiltu, 18, who was wrong­fully con­victed and ex­e­cuted in 1996 for rape and mur­der. His par­ents re­ceived State com­pen­sa­tion to­tal­ing 2.05 mil­lion yuan ($300,000) in Jan­uary last year.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

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