China / Society

Death row inmate's sentence questioned

By Wen Xinzheng in Changsha and Ma Lie in Xi'an (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-13 03:51

A murder-rape case "cracked" by police in Jiahe county, Hunan province, has been strongly questioned by the convict's family members and his lawyers who claimed he had been tortured.

Li Jinbiao, a local farmer, faced 15 charges ranging from rape, murder and robbery in early 2011, half a month after he was arrested for robbery.

All the charges were related to crimes he was suspected to have committed from 2000 to 2010, including raping and killing a 73-year-old woman.

In May 2012, Chenzhou Intermediate People's Court removed nine charges from the list, citing a lack of evidence, but still sentenced Li to death.

Li appealed to Hunan High People's Court, which, in November 2013, removed another four charges against him. But still, it ruled that Li was guilty of robbery and raping and killing the 73-year-old woman, and sentenced him to death.

Li has appealed to the Supreme People's Court, which has to review all death sentences given by the provincial high courts.

Yi Wensong, Li's current lawyer, said the death sentence doesn't have sufficient evidence to support the charges and that Li was possibly tortured into confessing.

Liao Zhongzhen, Li's lawyer during his second trial, agreed to the claim, citing an injury on Li's right hand three days after he was detained.

Police later said that Li hurt his hand when he tried to hold an electric stove during the investigation.

Liao claimed the police were lying because Li's injury was much more serious. Two years after Li was arrested, he still could not move his right arm and shoulder, indicating he had been injured, Liao said.

Li has written multiple letters saying he was tortured by police officer Lei Jianting and others while detained. "They beat me with their legs, fists, whips and wooden clubs," he once wrote.

Lei denied that the police had tortured Li during investigation.

He was awarded a citation for merit for "solving the 15 cases under Li's offense list", and promoted to become deputy director of the county bureau of public security in 2013.

Li Yongsheng, a professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, said that torture is the main cause behind cases of miscarriage of justice.

"Suspects are tortured once they are arrested because all murder cases must be solved. It has become a formula for wrong cases to emerge," he told the Beijing Times earlier.

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