Liao Haijun spent 11 years in jail for a double murder he didn't commit
A man who was wrongly convicted of intentional homicide about 15 years ago was cleared on Thursday, when a court ruled that his conviction was based on insufficient evidence.
Tangshan Intermediate People's Court in Hebei province announced that Liao Haijun was not guilty of killing two girls, "as the evidence in this case does not prove he had the motivation to do the offense, and the blood collected in his home was difficult to identify as being from the victims".
Liao was sentenced to life imprisonment by the same court in 2003. His parents, who were sentenced to five years in prison for concealing the killing, were also acquitted on Thursday. They were released in 2004, but both have since died.
"It's difficult for me to say it is good," Liao, 37, from Hebei province, told China Daily. That's because of the lengthy, unjust suffering the convictions caused, and because his parents were not in court to hear the result.
"I must accept it," he said. "I hope the rule of law will be firmly upheld in the future."
He said he would apply for state compensation after working out the amount with his lawyer.
The family became involved in the case in January 1999, when two 9-year-old girls in Xinji village, Tangshan, came up missing. Their bodies were soon found in a well, and Liao, then 17, was named as the suspect. His parents were also detained by the police.
In 2003, the intermediate people's court made the original ruling, handing a life sentence to Liao and giving his parents five years in prison. It said that Liao killed the girls in his home and then threw the bodies into the well with the assistance of his parents.
The family appealed to the Hebei High People's Court, but was rejected in 2006.
Their request was not accepted until 2009, when the Supreme People's Court ordered the high court to retry the case. By that time, Liao's parents had been freed.
In November 2009, the high court withdrew the judgment made by the intermediate court and ordered the lower court to hear the case again.
A year later, Liao, who had served 11 years in prison, was granted bail.
Liao said little about his appeal while in prison, "because I wanted to go out as quickly as I could".
"If I didn't plead guilty, I would not get commutations, let alone be released," he said.
In 2016, the case was heard again at the intermediate court, six years after the death of Liao's father.
Thursday's acquittal was bittersweet for Liao because his mother died last month. "I wish my parents could see the result," he said.
Now, Liao makes a living through temporary jobs, such as driver or salesman. He has married and now has a daughter.
Li Changqing, Liao's lawyer, said he would continue helping by applying for compensation.
"But what I most want to see is the punishment of those responsible for the judicial miscarriage of justice," he said.