Chinese man spent 27 years in prison but court finds him not guilty


Zhang Yuhuan, 53, was released Tuesday after the Supreme People’s Court of East Jiangxi Province declared him “not guilty” based on a lack of sufficient evidence, Chinese state media Global reported. Times.

The result came after a long legal battle to overturn the conviction and highlights the ongoing problems within the Chinese legal system.

In 1993, two boys were found dead in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, according to the report. The police suspected Zhang, the boys’ neighbor, of having killed them.

In 1995, Zhang was sentenced to death with a two-year conditional sentence, meaning his death sentence would be commuted to a life sentence if he did not commit any other crime within two years, China reported. Daily.

But Zhang appealed to a higher court, arguing that he was not the murderer and claiming that the police tortured him during interrogation, according to the report.The higher court ordered a new trial, but this did not take place until November 2001, China Daily reported. The intermediate court upheld the initial judgment and a subsequent appeal was dismissed.

Zhang and his family continued to insist that he was innocent – and finally in March of last year, the Jiangxi Supreme People’s Court reopened the case, according to the report. On Tuesday he was found not guilty.

“After reviewing the documents, we found that there was no direct evidence that could prove Zhang’s conviction. So we accepted the prosecutors’ suggestion and declared Zhang innocent, ”Judge Tian Ganlin said.

Zhang can now seek compensation from the state, the Global Times reported.

According to the China Daily report, Zhang said the wrongful conviction cost him the best years of his life. Her two sons are now married and have children of their own.

“It is difficult for the compensation to compensate for the damage caused by the wrongful conviction to me and my family, but I always hope to be compensated quickly to repair my house and take care of my mother,” Zhang said.

Criminal justice

For years, human rights activists have criticized the Chinese legal system, claiming that it allows unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

China has tried to reform its legal system. According to the Global Times report, China officially adopted the legal principle of “innocence until proven guilty” in 1996.

In 2013, an influential Communist Party legal commission issued new guidelines calling for fairer due process in China’s much-maligned justice system.

However, problems with the country’s legal system persist. The Chinese justice system has a conviction rate of around 99%, according to legal observers. He also remains indebted to the ruling Communist Party. The courts are seen above all as a “political organ”, according to the country’s chief justice, Zhou Qiang.

It is rare for people to have their convictions overturned – although Zhang is not the first.

In 2013, a man who served 17 years of life imprisonment for the murder of his wife was released after a Higher People’s Court in Anhui Province ruled that “the facts about the alleged homicide did not” were unclear and there was insufficient evidence ”.

In 2016, China’s highest court overturned a rape and murder conviction against Nie Shubin – more than two decades after his execution.

Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at the Shanghai Institute of Administration, said the ruling in Zhang’s case shows the advancement of the rule of law, according to the China Daily. But he also said judicial authorities could help prevent wrongful convictions by excluding evidence obtained through torture.


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