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Bad verdict: Man wants 2 billion yuan

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-25 07:51

Entrepreneur, 49, says he should be paid for 10 years spent in custody

An entrepreneur who spent about 10 years in prison for contract fraud saw his name cleared in court on Tuesday and said he plans to demand more than 2 billion yuan ($295 million) in compensation.

Zhao Shoushuai was found not guilty after a retrial in Xinxiang Intermediate People's Court in Henan province because of insufficient evidence and violations of legal procedures discovered in the original ruling.

"I was satisfied with the result," the 49-year-old businessman from Gansu province told China Daily after the verdict was announced. "This shows there is legal protection for entrepreneurs like me and our property rights."

The same court sentenced Zhao to 16 years in prison for contract fraud in 2002. Prosecutors at the time said his farm machinery company had swindled huge amounts of money out of enterprises with which it had signed contracts. Zhao was also handed a 30,000 yuan fine.

After the original verdict, the court said Zhao had chosen not to appeal, and so he was sent directly to prison. It wasn't clear exactly what transpired, as Zhao said that he did, in fact, attempt to appeal but was rejected.

"I always insisted on my innocence, but the court did not allow me to appeal," said Zhao, who was released in 2010 after receiving several commutations of his sentence.

In 2013, he submitted case materials to the Henan People's Procuratorate for review. Three years later, prosecutors lodged a protest over what they believed were errors in Zhao's 2002 conviction in Henan High People's Court.

Last year, the high court overturned the verdict and ordered the intermediate court to retry the case, "as the ruling was based on insufficient evidence and there were miscarriages in legal procedures".

"It's a long-awaited acquittal for me, and I must thank the prosecutors," Zhao said. "I cooperated with several enterprises in Henan and Shandong provinces and did good business before I was wrongly detained. Why would I cheat them out of money?"

He said he had decided to apply to the court for more than 2.16 billion yuan in compensation from the government.

"In addition to 3.59 million for my wrongful detention and 30 million for mental anguish, I also applied for the compensation of about 2 billion for damage my company suffered in these years," he added.

In January, Zhao's case was taken up by the Supreme People's Procuratorate - the nation's top prosecuting authority - as it highlighted its supervisory role in correcting wrongful convictions on property rights.

Teng Shengqing, a lawyer for Zhao's company, said the case centered on negotiations with other companies over the price and quantity of machine accessories, "but it was an economic dispute, not a crime".

In the past two years, the country has strengthened efforts to protect property rights. The Supreme People's Court has also ordered lower departments to strictly distinguish between economic disputes and economic crimes, clarifying the boundary between financing and illegal fundraising, as well as better defining what kinds of behaviors from private enterprises may be categorized as embezzlement of State assets.

caoyin@chinadaily.com.cn

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