Death row inmate stands trial again

2020-12-18 22:38:12

Wang Shujin signs an acknowledgement letter of the court ruling at Hebei High People's Court, on Sept 27, 2013. [Photo/Hebei High People's Court] Wang Shujin, a native of Hebei province who has been sitting on death row for about a decade for serial rape and murder, stood trial again after he initiated a criminal appeal against the ruling last month. The Hebei High People's Court spent more than two hours hearing Wang's appeal on Friday morning, but it said it would announce its ruling at a later date. Wang was sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape and sentenced to death for intentional homicide on Nov 24 after the provincial Handan Intermediate People's Court identified four rapes, three killings and an attempted killing committed by him from 1993 to 1995. With the crimes combined, the court gave a death sentence. After the ruling was announced, Wang appealed to the high court, "as he thought his claim of raping and killing a woman surnamed Kang in a cornfield in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, in 1994 was not supported by the Handan court," said Zhu Aimin, Wang's lawyer. "Wang insisted he was the real killer in Kang's case during the November trial, but prosecutors rejected the claim, noting testimony by him differed from the physical evidence in the case," Zhu said, adding his client's appeal was just for making Kang's case clear. Wang, 53, drew public attention in 2005 when he was detained and voluntarily confessed to several rapes and murders, including the one involving Kang in 1994. In 2007, he was sentenced to death for three rapes, two killings and an attempted killing by the Handan court. The death sentence was upheld by the high court in 2013, and then submitted to the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, for a review in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Law. On Nov 9, however, the top court did not approve the death sentence and sent Wang's case back to the Handan court for retrial because of newly discovered evidence. But the new evidence was not related to Kang's case. Instead, it was the result of a DNA test in another rape and murder case involving another woman surnamed Zhang, which Wang also confessed to after his detention. On Nov 20, when the Handan court retried Wang's case, it said DNA test results on a skeleton found by police following directions given by Wang proved it was Zhang's. But when Wang said again he raped and killed Kang during that rehearing, neither the Hebei prosecutors nor the Handan court supported him. Wang's confession to Kang's case also draw widespread attention, because another man, Nie Shubin, had already been sentenced to death and executed for raping and killing Kang in 1995. The confession triggered reinvestigation of Nie's case. In 2016, the top court announced Nie "was not guilty" as evidence in the case was not strong enough to prove Nie's conviction. As Chinese people lauded the justice upheld by the top court, some also questioned whether Wang's aim was to reduce his punishment through confession. But Zhu, Wang's lawyer, said Wang's confession to Kang's case never changed in the past decade, adding "my client told me he just wanted judges to make the case clear."