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Trial reopens in controversial rape-murder case

2013-06-26 08:50 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

The trial of Wang Shujin, a man from north China's Hebei Province who has confessed to crimes for which another man has already been executed, re-opened on Tuesday.

Nie Shubin was executed in 1995 at the age of 21 for the 1994 rape and murder of a woman in the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang. After Wang was apprehended by police in 2005 for three separate rape and murder cases, he confessed to also having raped and murdered the woman in Shijiazhuang.

However, on Tuesday morning, a prosecutor and defense attorney in the Handan Intermediate People's Court debated whether Wang is, in fact, the perpetrator in the 1994 case.

Wang confessed to the crimes in court. He said he pushed the woman off of a bicycle, raped her and kicked her in the chest until she died. He said he took the woman's dress as a gift for his wife and left her lying naked in a corn field.

However, the prosecutor said the woman was found in a white undershirt and nylon socks, with a colored shirt wrapped around her neck. She had no bone fractures and died of suffocation.

The two sides also disagreed on the time that the crime was committed and on the height of the victim.

The prosecutor showed an autopsy report, a crime scene investigation report and witness testimony during the proceedings.

Wang's attorney, Zhu Aimin, said it was his first time seeing the evidence shown by the prosector.

Zhu said he believes the materials should have been entered into evidence prior to the start of the trial, giving him time to look through them.

He also expressed doubt about the validity and authenticity of the newly-presented evidence and asked for an adjournment so he could examine it.

The judge announced the adjournment at about 10:50 a.m. It has not yet been decided when the trial will reconvene.

In Wang's first trial in March 2007, he was sentenced to death in three rape and murder cases. But Wang filed an appeal with the court because the prosecutor did not pursue the fourth rape and murder case, which Nie Shubin had already been executed for. The Hebei Provincial Higher People's Court held a second trial for Wang's fourth case that year. There was no verdict in the second trial, which did not resume until Tuesday.

Nie Shubin's mother, 68-year-old Zhang Huanzhi, had pinned her hopes on having her son exonerated in the second trial, but said she felt depressed after Tuesday's proceedings.

Nie's case has been a recurring topic in Chinese media, as the Chinese government started to enforce its revised criminal procedure law on Jan. 1.

The revised law pledges to "respect and protect human rights" in criminal proceedings and correct any mistakes in the event that an erroneous judgment is discovered.

The law bans forced self-incrimination and requires courts to exclude evidence obtained through extortion and torture. It also tightens requirements for arrests and strengthens the rights of defense lawyers.

The political and legal departments of Hebei will firmly support media supervision of legal justice, but the media should also respect the law and avoid using "injustice" to carry out a "media judgment," an official from the Communist Party of China Hebei Provincial Commission for Political and Legal Affairs told Xinhua.

The legal departments will try the Wang Shujin case fairly and will announce the verdict to the public, he said.

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