AFP and AP
BEIJING–A Chinese teenager executed after being convicted of murder and rape 18 years ago was declared innocent by a court Monday, in a rare overturning of a wrongful conviction. The 18-year-old, named Hugjiltu and also known as Qoysiletu, was found guilty and put to death in Inner Mongolia in 1996, but doubt was cast on the verdict when another man confessed to the crime in 2005. ��The Inner Mongolia Higher People’s Court finds Hugjiltu’s original guilty verdict … is not consistent with the facts and there is insufficient evidence,�� the court in Hohhot said in a statement.
��Hugjiltu is found not guilty.�� The retrial comes after a pledge by leaders of the ruling Communist Party to strengthen the rule of law ��with Chinese characteristics�� �X a concept experts caution refers to greater central control over the courts rather than judicial independence. The court’s deputy president gave Hugjiltu’s parents compensation of 30,000 yuan (US$4,850), according to the official Xinhua News Agency �X although the money was a personal donation by the head of the court, it added, rather than an official payment by the institution. The parents were told they could claim an unspecified amount of compensation.
Chinese state media carried photos of a court official handing over the verdict to Huugjilt’s weeping parents at their home in Inner Mongolia’s regional capital of Hohhot.
Huugjilt had come to the attention of the police after reporting that he had found the woman’s body in a public toilet in Hohhot after hearing a cry for help. Court Apology Images on social media showed the deputy president apologizing to Hugjiltu’s now elderly parents.
The deputy head of the court, Zhao Jianping, offered his ��sincere apologies�� to Huugjilt’s parents, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.
��This is an amazing thing the court did, to admit that they were wrong,�� said Wang Gongyi, deputy director of the research institute of the Ministry of Justice.
��It also sends a clear message to the police and prosecutors around the country: if there’s not enough evidence, don’t impose wrongful convictions,�� he told AFP. ��In the future, this case will be singled out as what not to do and will influence the entire legal system.�� Police in Hohhot, where the crime took place, said they opened an investigation into the officers responsible for the original case, according to the Legal Evening News. The regional court said Hugjiltu’s confession did not match the autopsy report as well as being inconsistent with ��other evidence��, and that DNA evidence presented at the trial did not definitively connect him to the crime. Wrongful Convictions China’s courts, controlled by the ruling Communist Party, have a near-100 percent conviction rate in criminal cases and confessions extracted under dubious conditions are commonplace.