Man cleared of rape and murder after 23 years in prison

Man cleared of rape and murder after 23 years in prison
PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

After spending half of his life in prison, 50-year-old Jin Zhehong cleared of rape and murder.

A 23-year-old murder case was re-opened on Oct 24 at the Jilin Provincial Supreme Court, after multiple appeals lodged by the convicted man convinced the court to retry the case.

Jin Zhehong was given a death sentence with a reprieve in 2000 after being convicted of the rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman in 1995. The victim's badly decomposed body was found buried near rail lines in Jilin Province on September 29, 1995. Jin was arrested by police a month later, and sentenced to death with a reprieve in his first trial in 1996. Jin appealed the sentence, claiming that he was tortured during his interrogation.

In 2014 the influential media outlet The Paper raised doubts about the case. The day their report was released, the Jilin Provincial Supreme Court posted on Weibo that it would re-open the case. In March this year, the court said that the evidence against Jin was insufficient and that it would retry the case.

Jin's defence lawyer, Xi Xiangdong, said there is no direct material evidence or witnesses in the case, and that Jin's conviction was based on his oral confession. The defence lawyer pointed to what they claim are other inconsistencies; for example, the victim's breast was scalded by cigarette butts, but Jin is not a smoker.

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