The parents of man who was executed 21 years ago only to be found not guilty of rape and murder late last year have been awarded 2.68 million yuan ($388,000) in compensation by the Higher People’s Court in Hebei Province.
Originally, they had asked for 14 million yuan ($2 million).
The compensation included 1.3 million yuan for emotional damage caused to Nie’s parents, a record high sum. It also included 1.26 million yuan for his death and burial cost, along with 52,000 yuan for infringement of personal freedom and 64,000 yuan for financial aid to Nie’s mother who said that she will not appeal the court’s decision.
For Nie’s family, the road to vindication has been a long one. Last December, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) admitted that flaws in the Chinese justice system had led to the wrongful conviction of Nie, who was found guilty in 1995 of raping and murdering a Shijiazhuang woman.
The SPC overturned the conviction after finding that several legal violations had been committed during Nie’s trial. They included insufficient evidence, lost documents, and a confession found to be inadmissible because it was gained through torture, along with the fact that key details like time and cause of death had not been confirmed by the prosecution.
Back in 2005, it became apparent that there was something not right about Nie’s case after a man named Wang Shujin admitted to committing the crimes for which Nie was found guilty. Unfortunately, a special investigation into Nie’s case by Liu Jinguo, who had served as head of the party’s provincial Political and Legal Affairs Committee at the time, stalled when Liu was promoted to another department.
It took almost ten years of constant petitioning before Nie’s parents were given another opportunity to vindicate their son. But even after the SPC assigned the case to a Shandong court for review in 2014, it wasn’t until this past June that the SPC finally decided to reopen Nie’s case.
The extremely long time it took for China’s courts to find Nie innocent pales in comparison to the time it took them to punish him. Just a month after his conviction, 21-year-old Nie was executed.
Nie’s story is strikingly similar to that of an Inner Mongolian man named Hugjiltu. Two years ago, Hugijiltu was found innocent of rape and murder charges that he was convicted of 18 years before. Unfortunately, just like Nie, Hugjiltu had been swiftly punished for his crime, being executed just two months after his trial. He was 18 years old at the time.
One month after Hugjiltu’s conviction was overturned, his parents were awarded with state compensation — amounting to just 2.06 million yuan.
The final compensation amount has become a hotly-debated topic on Chinese social media:
“No matter how much they are paid, it won’t bring back their son.”
“I don’t knew how much they should be paid, but that doesn’t seem like enough.”
“If this happened in the US, then you would have to add another zero to that number.”
“State compensation means that this is the taxpayers’ money, and that greedy officials have 2 million yuan less to embezzle away.”
“I just want to know, why was he executed so quickly?”
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