China man exonerated after 27 years in prison for murder

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BEIJING | Chinese justice has cleared a man convicted of murder and who spent 27 years in prison, a case which raised charges of torture by police.

Zhang Yuhuan, 52, was jailed for the murder of two young boys in 1993, but has always claimed that his confession was extracted from him under torture.

After 27 years behind bars, a court in eastern China cleared him on Tuesday, arguing insufficient evidence.

“After reviewing the case, we concluded that there was no direct evidence to support the conviction,” the Jiangxi High People’s Court said in a statement. “So we declared Zhang innocent,” she added, apologizing.

He is the death row inmate who has spent the most time in prison in the country, according to the official China New Agency.

He was originally sentenced to death in 1995 before his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment two years later.

After several unsuccessful appeals, the Jiangxi court finally ordered a new trial in March 2019.

The Court then concluded that it was impossible to prove that bags and a rope found at the scene of the crime and having been used in the double murder had any connection with the accused.

Zhang’s attorney, Wang Fei, announced that his client would seek compensation for his detention and prosecution against “those who committed this denial of justice.”

Human rights defenders have often questioned the impartiality of Chinese courts, which convict nearly 99% of defendants appearing before them.

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