Chinese man acquitted of murder after 25 years

PHOTO: Screengrab from video

A man who was convicted of homicide in Jilin province more than two decades ago has had his name cleared after a retrial, because of unclear facts and insufficient evidence.

Liu Zhonglin, 49, who had been detained for 25 years, was acquitted on Friday at the Jilin High People's Court.

Liu appeared calm when the verdict was announced.

"I'm not excited, as innocence for me was a long and difficult wait," he said. "I hope to get state compensation as soon as possible, and then buy a house to end my current wandering life."

Zhang Yupeng, Liu's lawyer, told China Daily that the time his client spent in wrongful detention could be the longest in the country.

On Oct 28, 1990, a villager in Dongliao county of Jilin province found a woman's body in a vegetable field. Police verified that it was the body of a woman surnamed Deng who had been missing from the village for a year.

Liu, then 22, was detained and named as the suspect in the woman's death.

In July 1994, Liaoyuan Intermediate People's Court in the province sentenced Liu to death for the killing, with a two-year reprieve. The sentence was upheld by the provincial high court a year later.

Liu and his family have constantly appealed since then.

In March 2012, the high people's court decided to retry the case, but the retrial was not opened until April 2016. At the time, Liu had been released after serving more than 25 years in custody.

Under the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law, the prison term of people given a suspended death sentence will be cut to 25 years if they do not commit new crimes and perform well during their twoyear probation.

Zhang, Liu's lawyer, compared the retrial to a marathon, "as it greatly exceeded the time limit of a rehearing".

According to the law, a retrial should be concluded within three months after a court decides to retry a case, and this can be extended to six months if necessary. However, many cases exceed the limit, Zhang said.

Before coming back to Jilin this time, Liu worked as a security guard on buses in Beijing. However, he said, "I'll return to my hometown, as no place can be better."