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Wrongly jailed men find justice 13 years later
Updated: 2009-01-11 11:31

ZHENGZHOU -- Two men who were wrongly jailed on alleged robbery charges have finally found justice when the central China court corrected its 13-year-old mistake and declared they were innocent.

A village post office in Biyang County of the central Henan Province was robbed of 8,200 yuan (US$1,170) cash on the night of November 21, 1995. In three weeks, police arrested post office worker Zou Shujun and his friend Yuan Haiqiang, a mechanic at a local agricultural machinery station.

The two were spending the night in Zou's office. Zou was 24 and Yuan was 25.

Though a year of detention and interrogation failed to find adequate evidence, the county court sentenced Zou and Yuan to six years and 5.5 years in jail respectively on December 12, 1996. The Intermediate Court in Zhumadian City, which has jurisdiction over Biyang County, upheld the ruling.

The real robbers, Zhang Fujun and Zhang Hongxi, were seized at the end of 2002, two years after Zou and Yuan were released. But neither the county nor the city court moved to remedy the injustice.

Four 13 years, Zou and Yuan pleaded innocence and petitioned for retrials. In their repeated petitions to the courts and media, they claimed to have been beaten up and forced into confessing to a crime they never committed.

All their pleas fell on deaf ears until August 2008, when the Intermediate Court in Zhumadian City demanded a retrial under the pressure of the provincial legislature.

The Biyang County Court reheard the case on December 30, and decided Zou and Yuan were innocent.

Last week, the intermediate court announced three of its own officials had received administrative penalty for wrongly jailed the two men. Yuan Changsheng, an official with the county court, was also penalized.

Zou and Yuan are expected to get a total of 360,000 yuan in compensation, according to a state compensation agreement with the county court.