Hangzhou five seek delayed justice
Updated: 2013-07-05 07:21
By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai (China Daily)
Five men who served 17 years in prison after being wrongly convicted for the murders of two taxi drivers in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, want justice, and their first targets are the officers the group claims tortured them into confessing the killings.
In 1997, Chen Jianyang, Tian Weidong, Wang Jianping, Zhu Youping and Tian Xiaoping - all natives of Hangzhou's Xiaoshan district - received death sentences or life in prison by the Intermediate People's Court of Hangzhou for the separate murders and robberies of two taxi drivers in 1995.
Zhong Guolin, Chen's attorney, said the group is determined to bring those responsible, including officers they claim used torture and other illegal measures to force confessions out of them, to justice.
"It's not personal revenge. They just want to unveil and show the harm of torture in inquisitions and bring society's attention to this problem," Zhong said. "They will later start to seek liability of those responsible and file for national compensation."
The next step, Zhong said, will be to file a complaint to the local procuratorial agency, a State organ that can investigate the police.
After the initial verdict in 1997, the five appealed. That year, the High People's Court of Zhejiang commuted the three who were sentenced to death to death sentences with two-year reprieves. But it nonetheless maintained the guilty verdict.
Fourteen years later, fingerprint evidence from one of the murder sites surfaced, leading police to Xiang Shengyuan, a Hangzhou native who pleaded guilty to killing woman taxi driver Xu Caihua on March 20, 1995, after arguing over a fare.
The evidence prompted the high court of Zhejiang to launch a review of the group's cases earlier this year. On Tuesday, the five were acquitted of all charges.
The court's statement said "irregular and uncivilized" manners were used in handling the cases, a reference to the officers' behavior in 1995.
Zhong said the five, four of whom were in their early 20s at the time of the arrest - one was 19 - are physically and mentally exhausted after their many years in prison.
On Wednesday afternoon, the five received a public apology from Wang Jinhao, a director in charge of discipline inspection at the Public Security Bureau of Hangzhou. The bureau declined to comment on Thursday about the group's wish to seek justice.
Zhong, the attorney, said the group will also seek national and local compensation for their time in prison.
According to central government regulations, those who have been wrongly imprisoned can be compensated 182 yuan ($29.70) each day in prison plus an additional amount for mental duress. The local government is also expected to pay a negotiable amount of money to the group.
"But we need to bargain with the Hangzhou government on how much the clients can get," said Zhong, who took over the case in April. "The real battle has just begun."