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Man with death penalty pronounced innocent
By Ma Lie (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-11 05:47

XI'AN: A farmer given the death penalty after being convicted of the rape and murder of two girls has been cleared after three trials.

Gao Jinfa, 47, from Dali County, Shaanxi Province in Northwest China, was originally sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve after a trial found him guilty of assaulting the youngsters in October 2003.

It followed his attacks on the two girls in his village in 1999 and 2002 respectively.

Gao was previously given a seven-year jail term in 1979 for raping another girl.

Because of his past conviction, he was considered the prime suspect by Weinan Municipal Intermediate People's Court for the latest attacks.

But after being sentenced, the judgment was later recalled by the higher people's court for a retrial.

In February 2004, the intermediate court maintained that Gao was guilty and sentenced him again to death with reprieve. But in turn the provincial higher court sent the judgment back for the second time as it said some facts were not clear, the higher court sources said.

In July last year Weinan Intermediate People's Court pronounced that Gao was not guilty after the third trial, and Gao went home after 1,215 days of imprisonment, said Geng Min, Gao's lawyer.

However, Weinan Municipal People's Procuratorate lodged a protest against the judgment just days later.

The procuratorate, the public prosecutor of Gao's case, thought that the procedure of the third trial was illegal and the court made mistakes relating to evidence given during the hearing, said a local procurator who refused to tell his name.

It emerged during the case that local police did not carry out DNA examinations on the body of the 12-year-old girl who was raped and killed in 2002.

The case has now been finally closed after Shaanxi Provincial Procuratorate, the higher authority of Weinan municipal procuratorate, recalled the protest and the intermediate court's third judgment was enforced by the provincial higher court, Gao's lawyer said.

He added he was preparing an application for State reparation for Gao to help him rebuild his life.

Gao told China Daily: "I am completely free at last, after three years of being detained and facing the death sentence."

He Yingmin, a local law expert, said that the result of Gao's case indicated that China's law system has now been greatly improved.

(China Daily 01/11/2006 page3)

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