Opinion / Editorials

No late recovery of justice

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-16 08:49

A retrial lasting more than three weeks finally acquitted a young man called Huugjilt of the rape and murder of a young woman, for which he was wrongly executed in 1996 at the age of 18. An investigation will now probe how such a terrible mistake was made and who should be held accountable for it.

For Huugjilt's mother it was unimaginably hard to get her son's name cleared. She spent nine years petitioning both the local and central authorities for a retrial, after a serial killer and rapist confessed to being the real culprit.

Another mother, whose 21-year-old son Nie Shubin was executed also for the rape and murder of a woman, still has to wait for the retrial she has been asking for over the past nine years since a serial killer and rapist confessed that he was the real culprit in 2005. The trial of the serial killer in Hebei province determined he was not the culprit, which denied Nie the possibility of a retrial.

On Friday, the Supreme People's Court designated Shandong Provincial Higher People's Court to review the case.

For the building of real rule of law, redressing any misjudged cases, the ones involving wrongly executed innocent people such as Huugjilt in particular, is of milestone importance.

It has not been rare for higher authorities to exert pressure on local public security departments and judiciary to crack serious murder cases. Nor has it been rare for the police to extort confessions through torture. And suspects have been sentenced without solid evidence except for extorted confessions.

The acquittal of an executed convict must be followed by a probe into the liabilities of a group of judicial workers, who might have extracted confessions by illegal means.

For a judicial system, protecting innocent people from being wrongly penalized with procedural justice is just as important as bringing criminals to justice.

Such awareness cannot be taken for granted in the judiciary in this country. The acquittal of Huugjilt and a review of Nie's case by a court in another province is a sign of progress in the country's judicial reform. The nine, dark and hard years both mothers had to go through to seek justice shed light on the nation's return to the track of building justice for the people.

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