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Wrongly jailed want more compensation

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai  (China Daily)

08:09, May 22, 2013

The lawyer of the uncle and nephew wrongly convicted of rape and murder and jailed for 10 years believes his clients deserve more compensation after a court announced it would award the men a combined 2.21 million yuan ($360,000).

"The court should give more money to make up for their losses," the lawyer, Ruan Fangmin, told China Daily on Tuesday. "I understand some issues are not included in the State Compensation Law, but I'm planning to talk over the losses with the court."

Zhang Gaoping (front) and Zhang Hui talk about their wrongful conviction case in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in March. ZHANG XINYAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Ruan's clients are still deciding whether they will appeal the compensation to a higher court.

The Zhejiang Provincial High People's Court announced on Monday that Zhang Gaoping and his nephew Zhang Hui, who were acquitted by the court on March 26, could each receive compensation of 655,730 yuan for 3,596 days' imprisonment and 450,000 yuan for mental distress.

The two men had also applied for indemnity for legal fees, medical expenses and a truck they were forced to sell at a low price, but the court declined that request. The lawyer said he and his clients will not give up those claims.

In October 2004, the men were convicted of raping and killing a 17-year-old girl in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, in 2003. Zhang Hui received a death sentence with a two-year reprieve, and Zhang Gaoping received a 15-year prison sentence.

"Every penny of their compensation claim should have a legal ground, but not a single word in the State Compensation Law mentions compensation for this item," Ruan said, referring to the lawyer's fees. The law needs to be modified, he added.

Nie Haifen, the police officer who led the investigation of the case has come into the spotlight. Nie also led the investigation of another murder case that turned up a suspect who was proved by DNA testing to be the real culprit in the Zhangs' case. Nie still holds her post at the criminal investigation team of Hangzhou police, Southern Weekly reported.

Zhang Xingping, a media officer at Zhejiang Provincial High People's Court,said that the provincial committee of political and legislative affairs has probed all the staff involved in the investigation, prosecuting and judgment of the case.

Zhejiang police apologized on their website on March 28 for the wrongful conviction, but some legal experts said the right approach to prevent similar cases is to hold those who in charge of the cases responsible and make them pay the compensation.

"The purpose of the State Compensation Law is to reduce wrongful cases, but if those police officers and prosecutors do not pay a price for their mistakes, it won't keep more cases from happening," said Yi Shenghua, director of criminal cases at the Yingke Law Firm in Beijing.

"The compensation is currently covered by State finance, which ultimately comes from taxpayers," he said.

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