A woman in Hebei Province, who was tried three times for the same murder and later exonerated after spending nearly 10 years in prison, has refused the 630,000 yuan ($102,312) in State compensation offered by the Baoding Intermediate People's Court Monday, saying it was barely 20 percent of the amount she was seeking.
Zhao Yanjin, from Anxin county, was cleared of hiring a man to murder her neighbor's 6-year-old son in 2005. The prosecutor's office appealed and she was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008. A third trial, in 2010, upheld the conviction, the China Youth Daily reported.
Zhao had been held in custody for four years prior to her 2005 trial. Two men were convicted of the murder. One of them, surnamed Li, testified that Zhao had paid him 2,000 yuan to kill the boy. Both men died before Zhao's retrial and there appeared to be no real motive that would lead Zhao to commit such a despicable act.
In May 2011 the Hebei Provincial Higher Court overturned Zhao's conviction but then it took six months for the mail to reach the local court, said the report, without further explanation. The lower court then delayed Zhao's release for another 14 months.
The newspaper quoted Yao Zhiqiang, a judge involved in Zhao's case, as saying that the appeal of Zhao's acquittal was made after members of the victim's family threatened to commit suicide if another trial wasn't heard. Wang Jiandong, another judge, said the delay in releasing Zhao was also due to concerns over the reaction from the victim's family.
"Even though some flexibility can be expected from different trials on the same evidence, there shouldn't be very different conclusions," said Feng Yujun, a law professor with the Renmin University of China, adding that when there is insufficient evidence, a judge should release the suspect instead of risking wrong verdicts, as is required by an amendment to the criminal law in 1997.
"Once the suspect is declared not guilty, the court shouldn't hear the case again unless there is significant new evidence," Qu Xinjiu, a professor with the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times, adding that court did not act independently enough.
Zhao is demanding 2.9 million yuan in compensation, which includes 1.9 million yuan for injuries suffered when she was beaten during her interrogation. She said she suffered partial hearing loss.
The court ruled that personnel handling the investigation did not torture Zhao.