Zhang Gaoping (left) and Zhang Hui, his nephew, have returned totheir home in Shexian county, Anhui province, after being acquittedof wrongful convictions that saw them serve 10 years in prison. Theirfamilies bought more than 20,000 yuan ($3,200) worth of firecrackersand fireworks to celebrate their return. Zhang Xinyan / for China Daily
Uncle and nephew seek to resume lives after sentence overturned
Two innocent men who recently had their wrongful conviction inZhejiang province overturned after 10 years in jail are still uncertainabout when to apply for state indemnity, although they were informedby the court that it is their right to make the claim more than twoweeks ago, their lawyer said on Tuesday.
“Their priority for now is to settle down in their hometown, get sometreatment for their physical health and adjust themselves into societyagain. They are too tired to be bothered with other things,” said ZhuMingyong, lawyer for Zhang Gaoping, 47, and his nephew Zhang Hui, 38.
According to the State Indemnity Law, the pair has the right to applyfor state indemnity to cover their losses for the wrongful convictionwithin two years’ time, so they are not in a hurry, Zhu said.
The factors that led to the wrongful conviction remain unclear, and ateam has been set up to probe the investigation and enforcementprocessing of the case.
Zhejiang’s Judicial and Law Enforcement Committee announced on Monday that it hadestablished a special working team to look into the investigation, prosecution and lawenforcement processing of the case, and anyone found responsible for the wrongful convictionwill be punished according to law.
The pair were acquitted by the Zhejiang Provincial High People’s Court on March 26. The courtsaid it is possible that police used illegal methods to accumulate evidence when investigatingthe case 10 years ago.
The court reversed its 2004 ruling that included a death sentence with a two-year reprieve forZhang Hui and a 15-year prison term for his uncle, Zhang Gaoping, for raping and murdering awoman in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, as there was new evidence showing the possibility ofanother suspect. Evidence presented during the previous trial was not enough to support theconviction.
Zhu Qiaoxiang, spokeswoman for the committee, said on Tuesday that the investigation isunderway. “We will stick to facts and process the work as quickly as possible, and we will keepthe public informed about any of our latest findings,” she said.
Both men claimed they were forced into confess after a long interrogation.
In an interview with China Central Television, Zhang Gaoping said the interrogation lasted forseven consecutive days with no sleep and little food, and added that he was forced to stay in asquatting posture for a long period of time.
His nephew said a detainee in the detention house named Yuan Lianfang forced him to sign aconfession statement. “I refused to sign it, and he punched me in the face,” he told CCTV.Yuan was later found to have been involved in another case in Henan province that also turnedout to be a wrongful conviction.
Tang Xuebing, spokesman of Zhejiang People’s High Court, said at a news conference onMarch 27 that police instructed inmates at the detention center to force the pair to confessthrough violence. He also admitted this was the reason for their wrongful conviction.
Zhang Gaoping had appealed their imprisonment in Shihezi, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomousregion, but it was not until last year that their appeal was accepted and a new investigationstarted.
Zhang Biao, a former prosecutor of Shihezi People’s Procuratorate, helped the men with theirappeal before he retired. He said anyone who caused the wrong verdict should be punished.
“The case did tremendous harm to not only Zhang Gaoping and Zhang Hui, but also to thepublic. As judicial workers, some of us have failed the public’s trust by not protecting innocentpeople,” he said.
Zhang Biao also expressed hope that the efficiency of related departments could be improved.
“If they had responded quickly to their appeal, they would not have wasted 10 years in prison.The acquittal came too late,” he said.
Zhang Gaoping’s wife had a miscarriage after he was sentenced and filed for a divorce. Hismother lost her eyesight, and died brokenhearted in 2009. Zhang Hui’s fiancee left him, and hisfather spent everything the family had to save him.
Source: China Daily