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Evidence may clear inmates jailed 16 years

By Zhao Wen (Shanghai Daily)

11:14, January 21, 2013

Five people who have been in prison for 16 years will have their convictions reviewed in two robbery cases - one of which resulted in a death - after the discovery of new evidence.

The five inmates are serving sentences of life or death with reprieve in the robberies. A taxi driver was killed in 1995 in one of the cases.

The Zhejiang Province Higher People's Court said on its website on Saturday that five may have been wrongly convicted, and "the wrongs must be corrected."

Four people - Chen Jianyang, Tian Weidong, Wang Jianping and Zhu Youping - were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and the fifth, Tian Xiaoping, was jailed for life under a ruling of the higher court on December 29, 1997.

While the court didn't describe the new evidence, a law school deputy dean posted on Weibo that a bloody fingerprint found on the scene in 1995 has been matched to a sixth person who has been caught by police.

The information posted on Saturday by He Bing, deputy dean of the Law School of China University of Political Science and Law, sparked heated discussion online and national attention.

The court, which has not confirmed He's account, said it decided on January 4 to reinvestigate the cases.

It has organized a panel of judges to review the case files, investigate evidence and question the five inmates again. The result will be made public in a timely fashion, the court said.

The robbery of the taxi driver occurred in the Xiaoshan area of Hangzhou, capital city of eastern Zhejiang Province. The robberies happened on March 20 and August 12 of 1995.

The court said the new clue was related to the robbery case on March 20, 1995.

Also, two of them were convicted of stealing properties worth 1,600 yuan (US$257) the same year.

Many Internet users said if it turns out the five were wrongly imprisoned, it would be a serious case of injustice. "Who is to pay for the 16 years they were treated unjustly and unfairly," said Chen Yi, a Shanghai college student.

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