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Confusion persists as trial continues in controversial rape-murder case


20:50, July 10, 2013

SHIJIAZHUANG, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The trial of Wang Shujin, a man from north China's Hebei Province who previously confessed to a crime for which another man had already been executed, re-opened on Wednesday after a two-week adjournment.

The trial ended at 12:30 p.m. on the same day. A verdict has yet to be announced.

Nie Shubin was executed in 1995 at the age of 21 for the 1994 rape and murder of a woman in the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang. After Wang was apprehended by police in 2005 over three separate rape and murder charges, he confessed to having raped and murdered the woman in Shijiazhuang.

The case has attracted extensive public attention following several wrongful conviction cases in recent months. Some even believe that Nie himself was a victim of wrongful conviction.

On Wednesday morning, the prosecutor and defense attorney at the Handan Intermediate People's Court debated whether Wang is, in fact, the perpetrator in the 1994 case.

Wang confessed to the crime in court as he did during a second trial held on June 25. He said he had pushed the woman off a bicycle, raped her and stomped her in the chest until she died. He said he then took the woman's dress as a gift for his wife and left her lying naked in a cornfield.

"I hope I can clarify some facts, but I know it's impossible to verify them (after 19 years)," said Wang.

However, the prosecutor said the woman was found in a white undershirt and nylon socks, with a colored shirt wrapped around her neck. She had no bone fractures and died of suffocation.

The two sides also disagreed on the time that the crime was committed and the height of the victim.

The prosecutor showed four forms of evidence, including an autopsy report, a crime scene investigation report, a witness and Wang's testimony, during the proceedings.

Wang's attorney Zhu Aimin said the prosecutor could not demand precise accuracy in all the details 19 years after the murder happened, as memories fade as time goes by.

Wang's description of the scene highly coincides with the crime scene investigation report, Zhu said.

Zhu pointed out several flaws in the evidence provided by the prosecutor. Only one signature was found on the autopsy report instead of two and the colored shirt was presented in the form of a photo instead of an actual object, he said.

Zhu also appealed to the court to give more lenient punishment for Wang in consideration of his voluntary confession.

Law experts agreed that it would be hard to confirm Wang as the murderer in the 1994 case, as the only strong evidence is his confession.

"The court should not decide that Wang is the murderer in the Nie Shubin case, as it is farfetched to make a verdict based only on his confession," said Liu Bojin, attorney agent in the Nie Shubin case.

"The case happened in 1994 and enormous changes have taken place since then," said Zhang Jinlong, a lawyer in Shijiazhuang.

"The standard of evidence has not been exactly the same over 19 years. It's hard to clarify the things they have debated in court," said Zhang.

Some local residents who attended Wednesday's trial expressed hope that Wang's verdict will bring out the truth.

Nie's relatives asked for a retrial many years ago, but never received a definite reply from authorities.

In Wang's first trial held in March 2007, he was sentenced to death in three rape and murder cases. But Wang filed an appeal with the court because the prosecutor did not pursue the fourth rape and murder case, which Nie had already been executed for.

The Higher People's Court of Hebei Province held a second trial for Wang's fourth case that year. There was no verdict in the second trial, which resumed on June 25 this year and was adjourned.

Nie's mother, 68-year-old Zhang Huanzhi, said she did not care if Wang is the murderer or not, as she is convinced that her son was not responsible.

"I want to go home first," she said when asked what her future plans are.

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