Top court announces it will retry old rape and murder case
China's top court has decided to retry a case in which a 21-year-old man was sentenced to death and executed after a review of the case found the original conviction for rape and homicide was based on insufficient evidence.
The Supreme People's Court designated Shandong High People's Court to conduct the review of the case, and it concluded there was not enough evidence to prove Nie Shubin was guilty of the crimes.
In its report, Shandong People's High Court raised serious questions about the times involved, the tools used and the cause of death, the Supreme People's Court said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Nie, a mechanical worker in Shijiazhuang, capital of North China's Hebei province, was executed in 1995 after being convicted of raping and murdering a 38-year-old woman in the city in 1994.
However, in 2005, a man named Wang Shujin was arrested for another rape and murder, and while in detention, the then-38-year-old confessed that he had committed the crimes that cost Nie his life.
Wang was later convicted of the crimes and sentenced to death.
Wang's confession led to the Supreme People's Court's decision to review the case.
According to a statement by Shandong People's High Court, the review took a year and a half and the deadline was postponed four times, due to the complexity of the case and the fact that the trial took place many years ago.
However, the review found no evidence that Nie had been tortured to give a confession, the court said.
Zhou Guangquan, a law professor at Tsinghua University, said that the decision to retry the case shows the respect to the law, the facts and the proper implementation of procedures.
Ruan Chuansheng, a criminal lawyer who has been following the case from Shanghai, said strictly implementing judicial process and respecting evidence is the key to preventing judicial flaws and mistakes.
Wang Wanqiong, a criminal lawyer in Sichuan province, said that the retrial will be a milestone in Chinese judicial construction.
"This will be the first time that China's top court will retry a controversial case that was tried so long ago," she said.
Details of the retrial will be made public, according to the statement by the Supreme People's Court.