Serial killer's death sentence upheld

Updated: 2013-09-28 07:07

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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Serial killer's death sentence upheld

Wang Shujin, who was accused of rape and murder, attends a second trial in the intermediate people's court in Handan, Hebei province, on Friday. The Hebei High People's Court upheld his death sentence. Ding Lixin / Xinhua

An appeal by a convicted serial killer against his death sentence, including a "confession" to another murder over which a man was executed, was rejected by a court on Friday.

The Hebei High People's Court turned down the appeal by Wang Shujin, a death row prisoner convicted of raping and killing at least four women, and endorsed the original death sentence handed down by Handan Intermediate People's Court at the first trial in 2007.

Wang, 46, appealed for clemency, arguing that his testimony of raping and murdering the woman identified as Kang may clear the name of another man who was executed for the crime almost 20 years ago.

In 1995, 22-year-old Nie Shubin was executed for raping and murdering Kang in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. But when Wang was arrested in 2005 for other crimes, his confession included a detailed account of what had happened to Kang, sparking speculation among Nie's family and the public that he had been wrongfully executed.

Liu Zhiting, chief judge at Wang's trial, said in Friday's verdict that although Wang was able to recount part of the details in Kang's case, his testimony does not correspond to some important evidence uncovered by police.

Liu said Wang's confession about how he committed the crime did not include a colorful shirt, which is believed to be the lethal weapon leading to Kang's suffocation. Besides, his recollection of Kang's height and the time of committing the crime do not correspond to the testimony of witnesses.

Prosecutors said in a court hearing in June that Wang could recount part of the details in the case because he worked in a factory only 100 meters away from the crime scene and he was interrogated by police as a witness while the case was being investigated.

Wang's death sentence will be carried out after being reviewed and approved by the Supreme People's Court, the nation's top court.

Zhu Aimin, Wang's lawyer, said he is disappointed by the result and will deliver his opinions regarding the case to the Supreme People's Court, hoping it may push the top court to rethink the case.

Zhang Huanzhi, Nie's mother, said she still believes her son is innocent and will continue to petition the top court.

Lawyers and legal experts are urging the Supreme People's Court to suspend the approval of Wang's execution and provide some time to retry Nie's case.

Zhou Ze, a law professor at China Youth University for Political Sciences, said he agrees with Friday's verdict, but Wang's confession is enough to raise reasonable doubts about Nie's case, which should be reheard.

"Because judges are only able to hear what the prosecutors have proposed in court, they cannot convict a suspect on a charge that the prosecutors did not mention in their indictment," he said.

However, although part of Wang's testimony does not correspond to the initial investigation of the case, his capability of recounting some details in the case is enough to compel the court to rehear Nie's case, he said.

But Xu Xin, a law professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, said he was not optimistic.

"Police officers, prosecutors and judges may be held accountable for a miscarriage of justice in Nie's case if the investigation and court verdict are proved to be flawed," he said.