Tears flowed when court read not guilty ver­dict

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - CAO YIN

Ihave wit­nessed many court rul­ings an­nounced in my past six years of re­port­ing on law. But this time I could clearly hear my heart beat­ing fast as this high-pro­file case has been part of my ca­reer.

Nie Shu­bin has been a name fa­mil­iar to al­most all le­gal jour­nal­ists in China be­cause his case has been widely re­ported and dis­cussed for more than 10 years.

On Fri­day, 21 years after be­ing wrongly ex­e­cuted for rape and mur­der, Nie was fi­nally par­doned on the grounds that the facts were un­clear and there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence against him.

Nie’s mother, Zhang Huanzhi, who was ac­com­pa­nied by Li Shut­ing, the fam­ily’s lawyer, looked calm dur­ing the an­nounce­ment. But she sud­denly burst into tears and started to knock on a ta­ble in front of her when the court read the word “in­no­cent”. Li pat­ted her, as his own tears flowed be­hind his glasses.

“I have been ex­pect­ing to­day for a long time, but my son won’t come back again,” the mother said.

Look­ing at the 72-year-old woman, I could no longer hold back my own tears.

At that mo­ment, I for­got I was a jour­nal­ist. In­stead, I tried to feel the ex­cite­ment and dif­fi­cul­ties of this mother who spent two decades work­ing to clear her son’s name.

“The hard­est part of the ap­peal was at the very be­gin­ning, when var­i­ous de­part­ments ig­nored me,” Zhang said. “But later I wit­nessed our coun­try’s huge progress in the rule of law, and in the end I see jus­tice. It was worth mak­ing all these ef­forts.”

Zhang said she would go to her son’s grave to com­fort her beloved one after re­turn­ing home to Luquan county in He­bei prov­ince.

I felt re­lieved for her — jus­tice stood on her side. I also ad­mired her. She did all these things to prove her son in­no­cent with great re­silience and courage.

Zhang Ji­ulin, a law school stu­dent at Liaon­ing Univer­sity who also wit­nessed the par­don in the court's pub­lic gallery, told me that she held her breath when the rul­ing was about to be an­nounced.

“I’ve ex­pected that the guilty ver­dict could be over- turned since the na­tional lead­er­ship laid em­pha­sis on the rule of law in re­cent years,” Zhang said.

She said she had shared the mo­ment with many of her friends via WeChat, a Chi­nese so­cial me­dia tool, which has been flooded by the news of Nie’s par­don since the rul­ing was an­nounced on Fri­day morn­ing.

The lawyer Li also showed his sat­is­fac­tion. “Jus­tice comes late, but it comes at last,” he said.

Win­ter in the North­east China is cold, but the lon­gawaited re­ver­sal of Nie’s guilty ver­dict has warmed the na­tion.

Con­tact the writer at caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Nie Shu­bin

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