Several cases involving wrongful convictions, which have received a great deal of attention, have been corrected during the recent two months, reflecting the determination of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) to improve justice and regain social trust in the law, said experts.
Shen Deyong, the SPC's executive vice president, openly called to prevent wrongful convictions in an article in the People's Court Daily on May 7, stressing that legal personnel should be alert to prevent wrongful convictions, as many of them are still influenced by the presumption of a suspect's guilt.
Zhang Gaoping and Zhang Hui from Zhejiang Province were convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison and death sentence with a reprieve of two years respectively in 2004. The uncle and nephew gave a ride to a girl in 2003, who was found dead later.
The charges against the uncle and nephew were dropped in March after they served nearly 10 years in prison. They each were awarded compensation of more than 1.1 million yuan ($179,692) on May 17, but they turned down the court's offer, saying it was 5 million yuan less than they demanded.
Another high-profile rape and murder charge against Li Huailiang, a farmer in Henan Province, was also dropped in April for insufficient evidence after three trials over 12 years.
Similar cases also include a reinvestigation into two taxi driver murder cases involving five suspects in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, in 1995, and the exoneration of Wu Changlong and four others in May, who were suspected of setting an explosion that killed a man working with the local discipline watchdog in Fujian Province, in 2001.
"It's a signal from the central authorities to actively push for judicial justice starting by correcting faults, and these efforts have to be strengthened in the whole system," Gao Zicheng, a partner in Beijing Kangda Law Firm told the Global Times.
Gao's observation was echoed by Jiang Ming'an, a law professor with Peking University, who said it was rare to see so many corrections of wrongful convictions in the past few years.
"It indicates that the judicial system is reflecting about its previous practices and legal concepts," said Jiang.
Both Gao and Jiang attended a panel in April with Zhou Qiang, the SPC's new president, to discuss measures to improve judicial credibility, which was viewed as a sign for the top authority to hear from the public to improve transparency.
Gao noted that Zhou emphasized the significance of handling cases according to the law as ignoring evidence and refusing corrections will result in wrongful convictions, adding that punishing those responsible for the mistakes is essential to push for progress.