China / Society

Release of wrongly sentenced man sparks heated discussion

By Cao Yin / Yang Jie ( Updated: 2016-02-01 17:37

Release of wrongly sentenced man sparks heated discussion

Chen makes phone calls to his family after he was released from prison. The president of Hainan Provincial High People's Court bowed to Chen Man, who was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for "homicide and arson" in November 1994 in the province. [Photo/CFP]

The acquittal of 54-year-old Chen Man who spent 23 years in prison having been wrongly convicted of arson and murder became an instant hot topic minutes after his release on Monday.

Chen from Sichuan province was handed a suspended death sentence in 1994 having been accused of killing a man in Haikou, capital of Hainan province, and then setting a fire to destroy evidence.

Officials from the Hainan Provincial People's Court bowed and apologized to Chen, informing him that he has the right to apply for state compensation.

Wang Wanqiong, Chen's lawyer, spoke highly of the apology, saying that it was good for her client's family to witness the progress of rule of law.

Wang said the correction of the case due to insufficient evidence and unclear facts reflects the principle of "no punishment in doubtful cases" under current Chinese Criminal Procedure Law.

Cheng Lei, an associate law professor at Renmin University of China, agreed, saying that the strength and determination in correcting wrongful verdicts should be applauded, especially in recent years.

"Such correction, I believe, will urge police to be more careful in investigations and also avoid evidence illegally gained by torture," Cheng said.

Chen's case also sparked heated debate online where the topic of "23-year Chen Man's case" attracted 177,000 readers on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo within eight hours of the announcement of his acquittal.

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