Photo of Nie Shubin from Weibo
A Chinese man has had his conviction for rape and murder overturned, 21 years after he was executed.
China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) revoked the verdict on Nie Shubin, a young man from Hebei Province who was convicted of raping and murdering a woman in the province’s capital, Shijiazhuang, in 1995 and executed the same year at the age of 21.
The case re-emerged in 2005 when another man, Wang Shujin, admitted guilt in the case and said Nie was innocent. In December 2014, the SPC assigned the higher court of Shandong Province to review the case and the latter found there were too many questions about the previous trials to uphold the conviction.
The SPC decided to retry the case in June 2016. The retrial panel of the second SPC circuit court reviewed all documents related to the case, visited the crime scene, verified evidence and questioned former personnel who had handled the case. It also heard opinions from the Supreme People's Procuratorate, which insisted that the evidence presented in the original trial was insufficient, according to state-owned Xinhua News Agency.
The SPC finally announced Nie as innocent on Friday. It ruled that the evidence was lacking; the time of the crime and tools used to commit the crime could not be confirmed; the victim's time and cause of death could not be confirmed; several key documents, including some records of the questioning of Nie and witnesses, had been lost; and the truth and legitimacy of Nie's confession were questionable. The evidence used for convicting Nie was not accurate and sufficient and did not meet the requirements for a conviction, it said.
The SPC delivered the verdict to the claimant and prosecutors, and which will be followed by compensation, judicial aid and punishment for the accountable parties, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Nie’s father told news site thepaper.cn that after more than 20 years, his family had finally received justice, and they were grateful for every person who had helped them in their fight.
The SPC’s announcement spread on China’s social media on Friday, and triggered a wave of discussions on Sina Weibo, a Twitter like microblogging platform in China.
The word “Nie Shubin” became a hot word on Weibo’s real-time top topic list at a point on Friday, and thousands of users were leaving their remarks under the hashtag of “Nie Shubin case retrial”.
“Hope such a tragedy will never be repeated. It’s such a huge disaster for a family!” @不良校草.
“Nobody can understand such pain. An innocent kid had died, and any justice and compensation are not enough to make up for the mistake. The past ruling has caused indelible hurt to the family who has been suffering from the loss of their son in the past two decades.” @我不叫白休休.
“Hope the country can give a deserved compensation to the family.” @威廉的铲屎官.
“We should truly thank those conscientious journalists and media; and what we should do as possible as we can is to bring to justice the police officers who did injustice.” @北方汉子的邮局.
“The spirit of nomocracy cannot be established in one or two days, but we have to try our best to make it, otherwise every one of us could become the next ‘Nie Shubin’. At least today we are seeing some hope.” @卖报纸的小孩.