A court in the eastern province of Shandong will review a controversial 1994 rape and murder case that saw a man executed, only for another to later confess to the crime.
Nie Shubin was 21 in 1995 when found guilty of the rape and murder of a woman in Hebei's capital, Shijiazhuang, and executed. In 2005, another man named Wang Shujin confessed to the attack.
Wang, 48, was apprehended by police in 2005 for three unconnected rape and murder cases, and confessed to a rape and murder with similar facts to Nie's case.
Hebei Higher People's Court approved the death penalty for Nie in 1995, rejected Wang's request for a retrial in 2013 and still holds that Nie was guilty. Last December the Supreme People's Court ordered the case be moved out of the province and reviewed in Shandong.
Five judges from Shandong higher court have reviewed Nie's case and the attorneys acting for Nie have seen the case files. In March, the attorneys claimed to have found several "evident errors" while duplicating Nie's case files, most of which involve legal procedure.
Nie's family, their legal team and officials representing those involved in the original trial will attend the hearing, scheduled for April 28, said a statement from the court. Other than the 2 parties, 15 people, including lawyers, lawmakers, political advisors and representatives of the public, will attend the hearing as independent witnesses and ask questions to both parties.
To protect the identity of the victim, the hearing will not be open to the public but proceedings will be documented via the court's official microblog account.
Normally in China, for the review of a murder conviction, the court goes through case files rather than holding an actual trial.
Prof. Bian Jianlin of the China University of Political Science and Law told Xinhua that this kind of hearing is very rare and may be be an attempt to promote judicial transparency and raise the credibility of the judicial system.
"We want to conduct a fair and just review of the case with adequate transparency," Zhu Yunshan, presiding judge of the the review team, said. "A hearing of this kind is our best option to hear both sides of the story and inform the public without compromising the victim's privacy."
Nie's case drew public attention following the acquittal of an executed convict in another rape-murder case last December.
A teenager named Huugjilt from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was executed for the rape and murder of a woman in June 1996. A few years later a self-confessed serial rapist and killer, Zhao Zhihong, admitted to the murder when arrested in 2005.
Source: ECNS, April 25, 2015
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