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Righting wrongs adds trust in judicial system

Updated: 2015-12-23 08:07
(China Daily)

Righting wrongs adds trust in judicial system

A gavel in a court. [Photo/IC]

Having been wrongfully convicted of poisoning the food in a kindergarten and killing one of the children in her care, her acquittal on Monday after 13 years in prison was both a happy and sad event for Qian Renfeng.

The same is true for China's judicial system.

Redressing a wrongful conviction marks another step toward a legal system based on due procedure and the principle of assumption of innocence in the litigation process, but Qian has still lost 13 prime years of her life because of the original verdict based on faulty procedure.

In this particular case, there was no motivation for Qian, who was 17 and working as a nurse at the kindergarten in Qiaojia county in Southwest China's Yunnan province, to poison the food of the kids. However, she was arrested and interrogated, and the police allegedly extracted a "confession" from her by forcing her onto her knees for hours and beating her across her face with a leather shoe.

And none of the judicial mechanisms in place to prevent people from being wrongly convicted worked to save the poor girl from being incarcerated. It is the free legal aid a lawyer provided her, after he found no evidence incriminating her in the original case documents, that righted the injustice done to her.

So Qian's acquittal should definitely not be the end to this case.

If it is confirmed that the police officers tortured her to obtain a confession, they should be held accountable for their wrongdoings. The judges in both the local court and higher level court who were responsible for the verdicts they delivered without sufficient evidence, and the prosecutors concerned, who should have exercised supervision over the entire legal process, should reflect on the case and be held accountable for any wrongs involved.

It will not be easy to right all such wrongs after so many years. Some of the police officers and prosecutors may have already been promoted to higher positions, some may have already retired and there might be other factors involved. But anyone who has contributed to the injustice this innocent woman suffered should be dealt with according to the law.

It is not only because justice needs to be delivered. It is also because addressing illegal or prejudiced practices by judicial staff matters for the country's judicial system and the rule of law.

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