Court sued over wrongful imprisonment
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-09 05:53
YANCHENG, Jiangsu: A man who was wrongly sentenced to death and spent nearly
600 days in jail, says he was tortured by police and is demanding 1.26 million
yuan (US$160,000) compensation.
Zhou Rukou, who had murder and robbery charges against him dropped in April,
yesterday took his case against the Yancheng Municipal Procuratorate and
Intermediate People's Court to Jiangsu Provincial High People's Court.
He is suing the two bodies for putting him in prison for 576 days, and
sentencing him to death, "with no evidence."
Zhou claims he should be compensated for "mental injury, restrictions to his
freedom, infringements of his right to life and health, and financial losses,"
his lawyer Sun Guoxiang told China Daily.
Zhou, 51, from Yancheng County, East China's Jiangsu Province, was detained
on April 10, 2002, after being accused of robbing and murdering an 84-year-old
man, Zhou Chengtang, who lived in the same village.
According to Zhou's lawyer, the only evidence police relied on to justify the
arrest was a bruise on Zhou's neck, which they took as proof he had been in a
Zhou told reporters that during interrogation he was tortured by 12 police
officers, finally falsely confessing to the killing and saying he threw a knife
and the old man's wallet into a small river.
Police did not find the wallet or knife even though they drained the whole
Police officers have admitted failing to turn up these two vital pieces of
evidence, but Wang Chunquan, head of the police bureau of Yancheng, denied
Zhou's claim of torture.
Yancheng Municipal Intermediate People's Court handed down the death penalty
in September 2002, a sentence which was overturned at retrial by the Jiangsu
Provincial High People's Court in July 2003 because of the lack of evidence.
Zhou was released on bail in November 2003, and was exonerated in April this
year when Yancheng Municipal Procuratorate withdrew the case.
"We could not find enough evidence, so we withdrew," said Zhou Honggeng, a
prosecutor with the procuratorate.
In addition to compensation, Zhou has called for the arrest and trial of
police and prosecutors he believes played roles in his 'illegal' imprisonment.
According to the State Compensation Law, those who are wrongly imprisoned
should receive 63.7 yuan (US $ 8) for each day of freedom they are denied. Zhou
would be due 36,700 yuan (US$4,608) for the 576 days he spent in jail.
Legal experts, including Zhao Xuguang from the Law School of Nanjing
University, say that if Zhou's allegations of illegal imprisonment and torture
are true, he should get much more.
Zhou's family suffered greatly following the arrest. His eldest son was
divorced by his wife because she did not want to be married to the son of a
His two school-age daughters could not go to school because the family spent
all they had, including the girls' tuition money, on trying to save Zhou.
(China Daily 11/09/2005 page3)