Wrong­fully con­victed men de­clared in­no­cent, freed

Jiangxi High Court found that the facts of the case were un­clear and ev­i­dence was in­suf­fi­cient

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

Af­ter stay­ing be­hind bars for more than a decade for homi­cide, four men in Jiangxi prov­ince were de­clared in­no­cent on Thurs­day, the lat­est case of a wrong­ful con­vic­tion be­ing cor­rected in the coun­try.

The Jiangxi High Peo­ple’s Court with­drew all pre­vi­ous ver­dicts on Huang Zhiqiang, Fang Chun­ping, Cheng Fa­gen and Cheng Lihe as the court found the facts of the case were un­clear and ev­i­dence was in­suf­fi­cient.

The court also said in a state­ment that the four might have been forced or tricked into mak­ing con­fes­sions, which re­sulted in the pre­vi­ous ver­dicts.

The four were sen­tenced to death at a lo­cal court in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi prov­ince, in July 2003 in con­nec­tion with the mur­der of a man, as well as the rape, mur­der and dis­mem­ber­ment of a woman.

They ap­pealed, and the Jiangxi High Peo­ple’s Court in May 2006 changed the pun­ish­ment to death with a twoyear re­prieve, a sen­tence usu­ally com­muted to life in jail. The lat­est re­trial was con­ducted on Nov 30 af­ter re­peated ap­peals from their fam­i­lies.

Af­ter the fi­nal ver­dict, Xia Ke­qin, deputy head of the court, made a face-to-face apol­ogy to the four men and in­formed them of their right to claim State com­pen­sa­tion.

Zhang Weiyu, the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Fang, said the four were re­leased on Thurs­day and united with their fam­i­lies.

A court state­ment re­leased

Briefly

af­ter the ver­dict said: “As a ju­di­cial or­gan, courts should learn a les­son from the case.”

The con­cept of pro­tect­ing hu­man rights should be en­hanced, the prin­ci­ple of ev­i­dence should be up­held, checks and bal­ances should be strength­ened among ju­di­ciary de­part­ments, and a quick re­sponse and cor­rec­tion of wrong rul­ings should be car­ried out, it said.

Liu Wei­dong, deputy head of the Jiangxi Lawyers As­so­ci­a­tion, said the over­turn­ing of the case will fa­cil­i­tate ju­di­cial progress across the na­tion and re­in­force the cred­i­bil­ity and au­thor­ity of ju­di­cial de­part­ments.

“The pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights should be pri­or­i­tized in the process of clamp­ing down on crimes,” he said.

The au­then­tic­ity, cor­re­la­tion and le­git­i­macy of ev­i­dence are the key to a court rul­ing, Liu said, adding that no doubt­ful ev­i­dence should be used in a rul­ing, nor should a ver­dict be made without solid ev­i­dence.

Chi­nese me­dia re­ported that the orig­i­nal rul­ing cited a police probe that said the four had con­fessed to the crime, but the men later said they were tor­tured into con­fess­ing.

In the lat­est re­trial, the court ruled that based on new ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing foren­sic ex­am­i­na­tions, the con­fes­sions lacked le­git­i­mate grounds.

On Dec 2, the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court, the top court, ex­on­er­ated Nie Shu­bin, a young man from North China’s He­bei prov­ince, who was wrong­fully ex­e­cuted 21 years ago for rape and mur­der.

A man and a woman in Zhong­dian vil­lage, Leping city of Jiangxi prov­ince, were robbed and killed. The man’s body was dis­cov­ered the next day. The woman was raped and her body was dis­mem­bered. May 25, 2002

Cheng Lihe, a Zhong­dian vil­lager, was ar­rested and said to have con­fessed to the killing of the man and woman. Police ar­rested three oth­ers soon af­ter. July 7, 2003

The Jingdezhen In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court sen­tenced the four peo­ple to death on sev­eral charges in­clud­ing mur­der and rape. Jan 17, 2004

The Jiangxi High Peo­ple’s

WANG JIANING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Huang Zhiqiang (sec­ond from left), one of the four peo­ple who were sen­tenced to death for homi­cide, rob­bery and rape 13 years ago, speaks to the me­dia as his father is over­come with emo­tion af­ter the four were de­clared in­no­cent in Nan­chang, Jiangxi prov­ince, on Thurs­day.

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